Fall Colors Trip To North Carolina Mountains

October 27, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Y'all ! How are you doing this week? Me? Great! I just got back from a week long Photography trip with my Photography Club the Goldsboro Area Photography Club. This is an annual trip that we take somewhere to take in the Fall colors. We have traveled to West Virginia in the past and also Washington DC once. But North Carolina is our main spot. We rent a house or cabin for a week and share all of the community experiences like food and gas for the cars we use to go place to place.  We plan our itinerary well in advance with a group of people that includes the officers of the club and senior members that have lots of experience in where to go. These houses that we rent are reserved well in advance and choosing a week to go is usually the 3rd week in October that is when the colors are usually popping in the North Carolina mountains but Mother Nature does have the final say. So some years we have less color than others. But one thing is for certain we always have a great time. I like to call it Summer Camp for old folks!  There is lots of laughter in the house and special nicknames are given to everyone that attends. It can get quite goofy. Now these trips are no vacation! Its called a workshop for a reason. We work, and are on the go the whole trip. We usually leave before the sun comes up and arrive back to the house well after dark. Driving and going to different spots to shoot the whole time. When we are at the house its backing up the days shoot and maybe edit a shot or two before it's time to get ready for the next day's activities. Early to bed and early rise is the routine that is followed. We usually eat out once or twice a day and either bring something to eat with us or eat at the house. Depending on the days activities. New attendees are surprised on how much we just keep going and are usually the first to say that this workshop isn't a vacation. We try to capture and do different kinds of photography from landscapes with beautiful colors to wildlife and some street/travel photography. This year was no exception as we did Landscape, Wildlife, Travel/Street, and even some night time light painting. So here goes a day to day rundown of how this years trip went. 

Linville FallsLinville Falls Day 1- Travel and Linville Falls.  We had a big countdown to this day on a group Facebook Messenger thread Linville FallsLinville Falls and it finally came. We left early for a 5ish hour drive to get to Linville Falls just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. When we arrived to Linville Falls early afternoon and I have never seen so many people. The parking lots were full and people were parking on the access road to the parking area as we did. I have visited these falls many times and even camped near by and have never seen so many people. We trudged on and hiked the trail to the falls and the falls overlooks. I couldn't get a photo of the falls because of the people but I did get some shots of the gorge and the surrounding areas. We then drove to our house. What a house and a location! Kudo's to our President Caitlin for finding this gem. We had views all around a great house to spend the week.

Day 2- Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. This is the first time that we have done this while in the mountains and we were all excited about the Great Smokey Mountain RailroadGreat Smokey Mountain Railroad trip through the mountains during Fall. It was very chilly and we had open air cars so we could get good photo's. It was a fun trip and I got a few photo's although to me the photographic opportunities were not as much as I had thought. Our plans were to walk the town of Bryson City but the weather started getting bad (rain) so we went back to the house . Later on in the day we drove to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Cherokee Visitor Center in Cherokee to view the Elk. Again Lots of people there and we spent some time there and then back to the cabin which was only 20ish minutes away.

Cades CoveCades Cove Day 3-Cades Cove day. Cades Cove Tennessee is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). There is about a 12 mile loop that you can drive and see wildlife and Landscapes. They also have a Mill there that you can visit and see.  The gates open at sunrise and if you want the early morning light you need to get in line before the sun comes up. I think we had about an hour and a half drive to get there and we sat in line. We had to leave at 4:45 in the morning!  We got on the loop early and got to see all kinds of wildlife Turkey, Cades CoveTurkey, Cades Cove from bear, deer, turkeys, horses and a hawk. And the landscapes did not disappoint either. We had the wildlife guys in the lead car to spot the wildlife because they have the eye to do so. We took two laps of the loop and on the second lap it started to rain. We went to Pigeon Forge where we had lunch at the Mill a country style meal restaurant  and there were lots of people. For our trip back we had a list of places to go to with over looks and waterfalls on the way to Clingmans Dome to shoot a sunset. Clingmans Dome road was closed for some reason. We soon found out why .  It was still raining so we decided to head to the house and if the weather permitted we would stop at one of the spots. But the rain kept coming and as we climbed up to Newfound Gap the rain turned to SNOW! Yes SNOW! Now that's a scene to see snow coming down on Fall Colored trees! We never did stop because it kept raining/Snowing and we made it to the house. And we found out that the road to Clingmans Dome was closed because of road conditions.

Dry FallsDry Falls Day 4- Helen Georgia and Falls day. Finally the weather had cleared and we had blue skies. We left and first stop was Cullasaja Falls a road side fall that slithers down the side of the mountain. Next stop was Dry falls CherokeeCherokee that gets it's name by being able to walk behind the falls. What was great about this place is that there was no one there. After having wall to wall people in other places it was great to go somewhere that we had it to ourselves. The colors were popping and I had a great time photographing them. Next spot was Helen Georgia. We as a group have never been to this spot before I had been earlier in the year. This town is all decked out as a Bavarian-style town. Piped in music and restaurants and shops galore. This made for some interesting photography and it was a unique stop on our trip. We also had a great lunch there.  The next stop was Tallulah Gorge Rim Trail where there were waterfalls. There is a deep gorge at this Georgia State park which was neat to see.

Living WatersLiving Waters Day 5- Waterfall Palooza! This is waterfall day one of my favorite days . First on the list is Sunburst Falls. This was one that we haven't been before and when we got there there was a couple getting engagement photo's done with pumpkins on their heads! It was very cool to watch and we got some snapshots of them. The next big falls was Living Waters Retreat .  There is about a 1/2 mile trail that has about 5 or 6 falls surrounded by beautiful trees with all of the colors. One of my favorite places. We spent a couple of hours there. We then went to eat in Brevard a beautiful town with a BBQ place that we have been to before and wanted to return. We had a great lunch before the next set of Falls. The next set was High Falls, Hooker Falls and Triple Falls. These three falls are located in Dupont State Forrest. The last falls was Looking Glass Falls. We as a group have been there many times before but usually in the morning. This was the first time in the afternoon. I like the afternoon better not as many people or as cold. So the day was full of Waterfalls and Hiking and Landscapes. A great day.

Elk, CherokeeElk, Cherokee Day 6- Elk Day! Even though we have seen the Elk one day before we really wanted to do the Elk again  Elk , CherokeeElk , Cherokee especially the Wildlife guys. We arrived early at Cherokee Visitors Center and shot some of the Elk (not really) in the fields and then worked our way to a stream that they cross a couple of times a day and really makes for a great photo's. I actually got a few really good shots and for me that's surprising I'm not really a wildlife photographer and really don't have all of the big lenses like the Wildlife guys do. I also got some good photo's of the little village that they have set up at the visitors center. After that the main group of us left and the hard core Wildlife guys stayed behind to get more shots. The rest of us went out to eat and then back to the house for some down time to do laundry or take a nap. That afternoon when the rest had joined us we went out to do light painting on Mingus Mill which is an old mill in the park. So we went out and worked the scene in the dark with big lamps to get our shot. Real fun! And it started to sprinkle as we were finishing up.

Sylva, CourthouseSylva, Courthouse Day 7-Cataloochee Valley Day. We were scheduled to go to Cataloochee Valley and shoot Elk and Landscapes but the rain came back. We decided to go out and have a good sit down breakfast. We drove to Sylva North Carolina and Man in Sylva NCMan in Sylva NC small outdoorsy town with hiking and fly fishing as major interest. We had a great breakfast and the rain looked like it was going to let up so we decided to shoot the city but as we started the rain came back. I got a little wet. So we went to the cabin to relax while waiting for the rain to subside. It did subside and we were itching to get out and shoot so we decided to go shoot Sylva again and then we went to Dillsboro, North Carolina to shoot the towns.  While shooting Dillsboro it started to rain and we came back to the cabin. We relaxed in the house for the rest of the day and got our things together for the ride home. The last day was just a travel day as we were out of the house by 8:30 in the morning for the ride home.

Despite the rain interfering with our trip we had a ball.  The colors were popping and we got to go to some great places for the Fall Colors! Its hard to explain the beauty that is in the mountains in the Fall.  The color of Autumn the crispness of the weather and the company of like minded photographers out having fun and learning. I love these trips and they are the highlight of my year.  If you get a chance to take a photography workshop trip somewhere Go! You will have a ball and learn a lot! So until next week get out and Shoot!


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