Fog and Ridges at Dawn in the Smokies

Fog and Ridges at Dawn in the Smokies

Fog hangs in the valleys of the Smokies as viewed from Foothills Parkway

In lieu of a major fall trip to a remote location, I decided to take two three-day weekends in the southern Appalachians to satisfy my unquenchable thirst for new images. Fall is my favorite time of the year and I enjoy every minute I can looking for great images in beautiful locations. The first trip was to western North Carolina through Asheville and Boone. The second trip was to Townsend, Tennessee near the southwestern part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I’ve visited Townsend often for several different reasons. First of all Townsend is not Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Cherokee. I’m sure there are great people who live in those towns, but the traffic in the fall is unbearable and competes with the peace and solitude found in the park itself. Second, Townsend is literally on the park’s doorstep. I can be in the park from any hotel in Townsend in less than ten minutes. My favorite stream in the park can be reached two minutes after entering the park. Finally, the drive from my home to Townsend can be done in less than four hours and there are a variety of ways to travel. Other than the interstate route, virtually all of those drives can be as beautiful as the park itself.

Ironically, this image isn’t from Townsend or from the park. It is *of* the park though. About twenty minutes west of Townsend, you can access Foothills Parkway. A short way up the parkway there are two pull-outs that offer magnificent views of the park to the east. It is the best sunrise spot I know of in the area. It’s common to see dozens of photographers lined up at the pull-out waiting for the sun to rise. Fortunately, the pull-out is quite long and can accommodate that number of photographers and even a few more.

You never know what actual sunrise conditions will be. Low lying clouds or the mountains can block the sun as it hovers over the horizon. Or, a clear day can yield a flat, bright sunrise that is totally uninteresting photographically speaking.

On this morning the actual sunrise wasn’t particularly colorful. However, it was cool enough that a bit of fog had formed in the valleys below. Although the fog dissipated quickly after the sun’s rays reached the valley floor, the fog moved through and up the valleys enough to make for some interesting images. This image was taken before sunrise or at least before the sun rose over the mountains. The sun had risen far enough to create some interesting color in the morning sky. It also created enough reflected light that the fog was illuminated against the still dark mountain ridges. Even though I like to capture riotous color and grand landscapes something about the subtlety of this image conveys peace and tranquility to me. I hope it does to you as well. Enjoy.

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