After seeing another photographer’s beautiful pictures of a Smoky Mountain setting sun. Marcy and I decided to head to the National Park on a recent Sunday (June 24th) to try the shot for ourselves. The weather did not look promising. Thunderstorms had settled down from the northwest, but I figured things would clear by sunset. But by the time we hit downtown Knoxville, we wondered about our decision. I pulled off the Interstate to check my radar app and thought things looked a bit better toward the mountains, so we continued our trip with windshield wipers slapping away the heavy rain. Our plan was to head up US 441 toward the North Carolina Border. The first stop was Chimney’s Picnic Area for supper and the sun finally did peek out a couple times to give us some decent shots.
The next stop was Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest point in the Smokies. As we went above 5,500 feet, we found ourselves right in the clouds with wind and a temperature of 59 degrees, so we headed back down the mountain to Newfound Gap for a comfort stop. Arguably the very best sunset viewing spot in the Smokies is called Morton Overlook and is just a half mile or so below Newfound Gap on the Gatlinburg side, so we had hopes for a decent shot. Morton Overlook is named for an early conservationist and is usually found to be packed with people toting everything thing from cell phones to Nikons trying to capture the beauty. We were to return again the following week for better success, but here is what we came away with on this late June evening.