23 August 2014

Share Your National Park Adventures for a Chance to Win a Yosemite Vacation

The National Park Foundation is having a Summer Scrapbook contest through Sept. 5, 2014. They are looking for photos of your National Park adventures, special moments and memories, to help them showcase what there is to do at our 400+ National Parks.

There are all kinds of categories in which you can submit your scrapbook: Fun with Family and Friends, Action and Adventure, Hidden Gems and Surprises and several more.

You can read all about it here: http://www.nationalparks.org/summer-scrapbook/

My kids hiking at Cades Cove several years ago.
The National Park Foundation preserves our over 400 national parks, so that they can be experienced today and for generations to come. They need our support and participation so they can continue to protect these treasured places, connect with new park enthusiasts, and inspire the next generation of park-goers!

And, the grand prize winner gets a trip to Yosemite National Park and category winners get a Park Prize Pack The category finalists will need your votes to be the ultimate winner. And, if you vote, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an adventure trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton!

This is a great way to share your Summer Scrapbook of adventures in our National Parks and help spread the word about the National Park Foundation.

12 August 2014

Are Concealed Weapons OK in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove?

Since the Guns in Parks law came to be in 2010, many people still have some confusion about what the law really means. Can you carry a concealed weapon in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? What is the difference between being on the North Carolina side and the Tennessee side of the Smokies? Can you carry in Cades Cove? What if you're camping or picnicking or hiking?

According to Dana Soehn with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Public Affairs Department, the law generally means that if you can legally possess a gun under all applicable laws, then it's OK to possess a firearm throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- unless it's a building where federal employees are regularly present. These facilities are well posted and include the visitor centers and park administrative buildings, where you absolutely can not possess a firearm. However, possessing a firearm in historic buildings like those dotted throughout the Cades Cove Loop Road, Soehn said, is OK since there are no employees regularly stationed in them.

These Red Rock Rover shoulder sling bags make
carrying a concealed weapon easy while hiking.
So, if you are legally permitted to carry a concealed weapon, then it's OK to have that weapon on trails, in campgrounds and picnic areas throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the visitor's responsibility, Soehn explained, to understand and comply with all applicable state, local and federal laws. In both Tennessee and North Carolina, the permit holder must have their permit in their possession at all times when carrying a handgun and must show the permit at the request of a law enforcement officer.

Both Tennessee and North Carolina now recognize a valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit or a license issued by another state according to its terms, and will, therefore, authorize the holder of the out-of-state permit or license to carry a handgun. That means both states will recognize any state's valid permit or license, even if they don't have a written reciprocity agreement with the other state, and even if that state does not recognize a Tennessee or North Carolina permit.

In North Carolina, if you are approached by a law enforcement officer, you must disclose the fact that you have a valid handgun permit and inform the officer that you are in possession of a concealed gun. You must present valid ID and the permit to the officer.

According to the North Carolina Department of Justice Website, North Carolina began automatically recognizing concealed carry permits issued in any other state effective Dec. 1, 2011. Out-of-state permit holders should familiarize themselves with the state laws pertaining to concealed carry.

For instance, in North Carolina, like in Tennessee, you can't carry a concealed handgun in any space occupied by state or federal employees. They also don't allow handguns in any business that has a sign posted banning concealed weapons, by anyone consuming alcohol or in areas of assemblies, parades, funerals or demonstrations. However, effective Oct. 1, 2013, unless posted as being prohibited, a concealed handgun is permitted while at a parade or funeral by North Carolina authorities.

So, the laws do tend to change from year to year and it truly is the individual's responsibility to find out what the law says about your right to carry, no matter where you are at the time.

Soehn provided this link to read the Park's regulations: National Park Service Gun Laws

The carrying of rifles or shotguns is also per applicable state and local laws. Tennessee's law, for instance, says you can have a loaded rifle or shotgun in a privately owned vehicle if you have a handgun carry permit. It also says, however, that ammo can't be chambered except in the case that you feel physically threatened.

Do you need to carry a gun in a National Park? You can't kill a bear with it, because that's obviously breaking a totally different law. You can't target practice or hunt with it since hunting and shooting aren't allowed in the National Park. It would be strictly for protection. As anyone with a concealed carry permit knows, the only time you would theoretically use your weapon is in a life or death scenario, unless of course you are target practicing somewhere besides the National Park.

But I'll save that debate for another blog post down the road.

10 August 2014

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to Close Oct. 31 for Bridge Repairs

If you have any plans to take a road trip on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail out of Gatlinburg, now's the time to do it. Roaring Fork will close for the season on the evening of Oct. 31, 2014 and will remain closed until April 30, 2015 to replace eight bridges along the roadway. The road will be closed to all public use, including hiking and biking.

The Roaring Fork area is a favorite side trip for many people who frequently visit the Smokies. It offers rushing mountain streams, glimpses of old-growth forest, and a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings. To access Roaring Fork, turn off the main parkway in Gatlinburg, TN., at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail to the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the national park.

The Noah “Bud” Ogle self-guiding nature trail provides a walking tour of an authentic mountain farmstead and surrounding hardwood forest. Highlights include a streamside tubmill and the Ogle’s handcrafted wooden flume plumbing system.

Just beyond the Rainbow Falls trailhead you have the option of taking the one-way Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This narrow, but paved, road twists and turns for six miles beside rich forests, waterfalls, and mountain streams. Buses, trailers, and motor homes are not permitted on the motor nature trail. An inexpensive booklet available at the beginning of the motor nature trail details landmarks along the route.

“Roaring Fork” is the name of the stream which the road roughly parallels. It is one of the larger and faster flowing mountain streams in the park. Drive this road after a hard rain and the inspiration behind the name will be apparent.

Several homes and other buildings have been preserved in this area. And a “wet weather” waterfall called Place of a Thousand Drips provides a splendid finale to your journey.
According to smokiesadventure.com, the Place of a Thousand Drips is something you won't want to miss. Their website says it's a low-flow waterfall that can be seen from your vehicle.

It is located just before the one-way road comes out to Gatlinburg. The waterfall comes out of high rocks and a small cave and cascades down 20-30 feet.  Due to the small amount of water that flows over the falls the name "Place of a Thousand Drips" seems to be fitting. Since it is best viewed during rainy season, now should be a good time for a visit. The Place of a Thousand Drips is a must-see, however, because of the intricate pathways and carvings the water has created over time.