We needed to take a day off for exploration and adventure. (Seniors adventures, of course) When we stopped in for coffee after weed whacking, Spence suggested that it would be a perfect day to ride the Tail of the Dragon. The weather was gorgeous, but the traffic would be less on a weekday. I've been wanting to go there since our first year, but Andy has been reluctant. We hear of too many motorcycle accidents on the park radio and the Tail of the Dragon is a famous ride for motorcycles.
Spence also suggested that we go into the park at Gatlinburg so I could take some pictures of the spot where thirty-to-forty trees fell over and blocked Little River Road for several days. Fortunately, there was a pull-over spot just past the tree incident site.
It has been all cleaned up now and was hard to capture on camera. In real life, it was very impressive. When we heard a park employee reporting it on the radio, he said it must have been a microburst. There were some trees and branches in Little River, across the road.
We continued on and took the Townsend exit from the park and then got on the Foothills Parkway. We hear of it on the park radio so I wanted to see it. There was very little traffic. I stopped a few times for pictures. This one is looking north/west.
This overlook is looking south/east
The spot and the view were lovely, but there was a lot of graffiti on the steps and viewing platform. I reported it to dispatch.
The Tail of the Dragon is an eleven-mile stretch of curvy mountain road on US29. It is very popular with motorcyclists and sports cars as there are 318 curves. Andy was very relieved that there was not much traffic. Only two vehicles came up behind me and I pulled over to let them pass. All the motorcycles were traveling in the opposite direction. I believe we were at the Tail of the Dragon Overlook when I took this picture. If so, that is Calderwood Dam and Lake.
I also wanted to see Fontana Dam and Lake on the Little Tennessee River. I was not prepared for it. Holy Moly!! That thing is huge! At 480 feet, it is the biggest dam in the Tennessee Valley power system and the highest dam east of the Rockies. Built to produce power for the WWII effort, it was started in 1942 and completed 36 months later.
Our next stop was at the top. This is a view of Fontana Lake from an overlook.
The roadway on top of the dam is the Appalachian Trail.
We turned into the visitor center and looked into this giant hole. It is a spillway to dump water from the lake and there are two of them. They are so large and deep that I thought they might be the gates of hell. I didn't get a picture looking down.
The visitor center has some exhibits and an observation deck on the roof.
From there, I took this shot of the spillway with the bridge.
We walked onto the bridge and I took this picture of Fontana Lake.
I had planned to stop in the Deep Creek campground near Bryson City to say hello to fellow campground hosts, Henry and Bonnie, but we realized it was getting late. We opted to pass it by and that was a good decision. It was after ten o'clock when we got back to Big Creek.
Here is our trip today. Counterclockwise from the red "X", Big Creek. I circled the main points of interest in red too.
We picked up this brochure at the dam visitor center. We did not stop at the Tail of the Dragon store for stickers or t-shirts. I'm not sporty enough.