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East Tennessee and Western North Carolina are world renowned for their scenic beauty. These are the incredible Appalachian Mountains, a mysterious place of mist and time. You'll never forget!

The Great Smoky Mountains, the Cherokee, and Nantahala National Forests all converge to bring a unique environment for photographers. Sweeping vistas of unparalled beauty, high peaks and overlooks, waterfalls, white-water streams and rivers, all give image makers a place to create our own forms of art. The Cherohala Skyway is an exciting place for nature photographers, and other visitors.
In comparison to the Great Smokies, the Cherohala Skyway is not a well known place, so there are less people around. This only adds to the opportunities for superior photography. Recently myself and the infamous photographer "Mule" Patterson took a full-day trip across the Cherohala. We had with us several Nikons for 35mm, and two Mamiyas for medium format. We gave them a workout! Here we see The Mule risking his life for your viewing pleasure.

The mid-October weather was mild and warm. My Jeep® Wrangler gave us the ability to pull off the Skyway at will, so we were able to acquire some really nice images. Let's look at a little history of the Cherohala Skyway, and then we'll enjoy a few of the images.


The infamous Mule Patterson conquers one of the dangerous peaks of the Cherohala Skyway

Back in 1958 at a Kiwanas Club meeting in Tellico Plains, a joke was made that the only roads into North Carolina from Tennessee were the original roads made by settlers taking wagon trains west in the 1800's. An idea was proposed to bring attention to this fact by having a wagon train from Tellico Plains to Robbinsville North Carolina. This was done, and developed into a tradition. Once a year, from that time forward, the wagon train would make its trip. This caught the interest of local and national political leaders. Over forty years later, a 52 mile two-lane blacktop highway was created at the cost of over $100 Million Dollars. On October 12, 1996, the Cherohala Skyway was officially opened.
In April 1997 North Carolina recognized the Skyway by declaring it a "Scenic Byway." Later it became recognized as a "National Scenic Byway." The name Cherohala comes from the combination of two national forest names. The Cherokee and Nantahala National Forest names were combined to form the word Cherohala.

We are the beneficiaries of amazing beauty as a result! Let's look at a few nice images of the Skyway. Then decide whether you would like to bring home some world-class images from one of the planet's most beautiful places.

Of course, it certainly helps to have the
proper vehicle to get you there. Here is my choice.

  The Author's Jeep® Wrangler TJ
The Ultimate Photographer's Vehicle!

As you travel along this very smooth double-lane road, your eyes are constantly seduced away from the task of driving. In the autumn of the year, my favorite time, the colors can be intense and awe-inspiring. The Mule and I drove very slowly along the Skyway, with our windows down of course, to prevent missing a sight, sound, or smell along the way.

Often we would simply pull the Jeep off to the side of the road to take a picture. There are wide grassy shoulder areas along both sides of the road, so it's not dangerous to pull over, or set up your tripod. Every few miles there is a nice multi-car pull-off where you can view a scenic vista, and find a restroom.
As you move along the Skyway, you look to the left and right, and see only beauty. There are no businesses anywhere along the 52 mile drive. You are genuinely "in the mountains." Be sure you have a full tank of gas, and some food with you. This is a three-hour wilderness adventure. As you climb up the Skyway, finally reaching about 5300 feet, the view is incredible! Everywhere you look are trees, flowers, butterflies, and quiet. In the cool autumn air, you feel as though you're an explorer, with a great new land to conquer. Bring plenty of film and maybe you can capture this sensation. Check out The Mule's view of this adventure in his own website article.

Since we had arrived in mid-October, the fall colors were slightly past their peak. The Cherohala colors will peak in early October on the top of the Skyway (5000+ feet), but will be in full glory lower down the mountain in early to mid month.

Any time during the first three weeks of October will almost guarantee your eyes a feast of Autumn's best. Come here and spend a few weeks of October in the area. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while you're here, it's only a few miles away. East Tennessee in the Autumn is one of the most delightful areas on the lovely planet. These pictures prove it!

 

 

 

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