The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a most special travel destination which has been enjoyed by my family time after time. There is so much that we like to do and see such as hiking, waterfalls, fall leaf looking to name only a few. My most favorite place within the park is off of the Blue Ridge Parkway on Balsam Mountain between Cherokee NC and Maggie Valley NC. You can drive to a picnic area which is also the beginning of a trailhead which wanders 2 miles down the side of a mountain to the top of a small waterfall. We have encountered squirrels, chipmunks as well as a family of deer and even a black bear mother and her 3 cubs. Of course we stayed far back to enjoy watching the cute little cubs in a tree. From that spot also, you can drive down a one way gravel road which winds for 11 miles through the park with nothing but birds, animals, and Mother Nature in her most natural state. At points along the way, with a fern covered mountain side on my right and a beautiful view of the adjoining mountains in the distance on my left, I almost feel like I am being rocked safely in the arms of Mother Nature herself. The people who live in the small towns in this region are some of the friendliest and most accomodating that we have found anywhere. We will never tire of visiting The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.