Townsend, Tennessee: Picturesque Natural Escape
On the day we arrived in Townsend, in eastern Tennessee, nature showed its beautiful side. We drove up into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which in early summer offers breath-taking sights of deep green valleys with countless colourful flowers and impressive mountains.
Historic Cades Cove
Our first stop in the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Cades Cove, a wide valley where horses graze on meadows full of yellow flowers. The best way to explore the valley is to ride a bike on the 17-kilometer-long loop road, taking us past restored houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, through meadows with horses and deer, and even past a young bear walking along a creek in the woods. Again and again, we stop at the lovingly restored houses, granaries and churches, where we get a great impression of the lives of the early settlers in this region.
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
Nearby, we visit the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, with countless exhibits dedicated to the region’s rich history. We walk past artefacts such as tools and pottery of Cherokee people who once lived in this area. Especially impressive is the outside area of the museum, in which you find 11 originally restored historic houses, who are all lovingly furnished on the inside. The tables are set, clothes hang near the entrance and everything looks like the owners are about to return. The exhibits of this outdoor village are interactive, and so I play the small organ in the adjacent church and sit on an old tractor in the barn.
Impressive Tuckaleechee Caverns
After lunch, we drive to the nearby Tuckaleechee Caverns. Its entrance in the back of a reception building looks unspectacular from the outside, but on the inside, this cave system is impressive. On our tour, we pass rock formations millions of years old that are lit beautifully, while our tour guide gives us information about the formation of this nature spectacle. The highlight of the tour is the so-called Big Room. The cave walls are 45 meters high, forming one of the largest cave rooms in the world.
Gracehill Bed and Breakfast
All around Townsend, and nearby Alcoa and Maryville you’ll find many beautiful accommodations for every taste. If you´re like me and love the wide views of the endless Smoky Mountain range, I would strongly recommend the beautiful Gracehill Bed and Breakfast in Townsend. Repeatedly voted the bed and breakfast with the most beautiful views in the U.S., this huge house on top of a hill really lives up to its reputation. In the morning, when the mist slowly rises from the trees, the views are simply breath-taking. The rooms are luxurious and elegant and the breakfast is a real treat – the owner prepares a three-course breakfast every day.
Townsend captivated me with its vast nature and stillness. Whether it’s an escape for two or the entire family, Townsend promises a dream holiday!