Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In mid-April I flew down to Nashville, TN to begin my journey over to the Great Smoky Mountains for the first time since I was a kid.  I planned a route that included stops are two different unique waterfalls, Burgess Falls (Sparta) & Ozone Falls (Rockwood), and neither disappointed! Unfortunately at Burgess Falls the trail down the bottom of the largest falls was closed because of flooding, but I was still able to capture an impressive scenic from up above.  Ozone Falls is actually where some waterfall scenes from "The Jungle Book" were filmed for the 1994 release of the film. The greenish-blue color of the water here and gnarly roots of trees near the bottom made it hard for me to leave.  After snapping my fill of shots I continued onward to my main destination of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg. The cabin I was staying in for 4 nights was beautiful and featured amazing views of the mountains, complete with an early snowfall!

Hadn't been expecting snow and ice to start off the trip, but at higher elevations there always know it's a possibility.  The foggy snow made for interesting backgrounds in photos but also unfortunately kept the main road through the park closed for my first few days there.  This forced me to focus my shooting at lower elevations in the park, but the many streams and waterfalls there kept my trigger finger busy.  Also taking quite a few loops around Cades Cove provided beautiful scenery, rustic cabins & mills, and even a few black bear sightings!  Luckily in the later afternoon of my last full day in the park the temperatures rose enough for the road up through the mountains to be opened.  This allowed me to shoot a dramatic sunset from Clingman's Dome parking area with temps in the high 30's and wind whipping so hard I hard to brace my tripod as best I could.  The last target of mine was to capture the Milky Way from inside the park and I got it on my last night there in the very early morning hours, bundled up with every layer I had packed with me haha. Couldn't have asked for a better trip down to this beautiful area and hope to return again someday for another round of shooting!