Savage Gulf and other gulfs, midsummer with the faeries and country legends on the plateau, “living proof” of sharks...or muskies! Bodysurfin' the Appalachians, swimmin' holes and movin' stars.
It began at Stone Door Camping Area, where we arrived just before sunset, enough time to set up our tent and walk over to small Laurel Falls behind the ranger office. I had been to Cumberland Plateau before, knowing in advance about the gulfs, the bowl-shaped pools at the bottom of waterfalls, that almost define this area of Tennessee. Contrast this with the sharp cliffs of the Blue Ridge (see “go forth into the waterfall”) and how these falls are more kind to swimmers and divers.
There are several gulfs, falls, and sinks spread across the park, a huge area of the west face of the Plateau, but Greeter Falls is the most well-known to locals since it's so easily reachable from its parking lot. By the time we reached the lower falls next morning, it was already hot and a group of teenage boys were swimming and diving. Nature's bath, clear and so cold! Since the boys were so loud, some fish swam to us as we bathed in the sunlight.
The campground? Remote and dark yet not far from the parking lot, with pit toilets close and flush toilets still not too far. And fire pits with plenty of already-cut wood around, perfect for sister fire-breather to keep a healthy flame for hours while white-tailed songs we played into the late night. The wood turned out filled with termites, though, suffering for our solstice fun as they were engulfed in the flames.
Fun Fact: The park's Stone Door rock was used for a climactic moment in the film “Living Proof” about Hank Williams, Jr.
If you go, camping is free on all parts of the park but requires a permit. Also, it is said that many poisonous snakes (rattlesnakes, copperheads) call the park home, but we didn't find any.
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