For the last dozen years my wife and I have been pursuing a quest to visit much of the US National Park system. So far we have been to 34 of the 63 parks. I'm sure that to no one's surprise, our travel plans for last year got scrubbed. Instead of flying out west, we decided to travel elsewhere by car instead. One place we visited was Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a new one for us.
I got a book about where to photograph in the park. I always try to use a resource like that when I am researching a trip. We planned to stay seven days, four on the south side of the park in Cherokee, NC, and three in Gatlinburg, TN. We had a list of waterfalls and mountain views to visit from both locations. Clingman's Dome, the highest mountain in the park, was on the list.
We went there the first time one morning from Cherokee. The mountain is in the middle of the park, but getting there from the southern side has less traffic. The views were classic Smokies. There is a trail from the parking area up to an observation tower, but I found that the views were not necessarily the best from there.
After coming back down and spending the afternoon elsewhere, we intended to get an early dinner and go back up for sunset. Arriving somewhat early, I had time to scout around beyond the parking area for a good spot to shoot. I finally settled in, and as I shot while waiting for the sun to get low, this was my favorite image.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor