Encompassing a diverse swatch of land from Knoxville, Tennessee, across the Smoky Mountains to Asheville, North Carolina, the Smoky Mountain region serves up some of the most beautiful and most diverse land in America. The focus is, not surprisingly, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And what a focus it is. As an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site, the park attracts an intimidating nine million people each year.
What they're after is understandable: some of the last remaining pristine wilderness in the Eastspecifically, thousands of acres of old-grown forest. It's a wilderness that climbs from 800 to 6,700 feet and attracts a wealth of diverse wildlife. As the mist rises through the Smokies, keep an eye out for bear, wild European boar, elk, and more than 230 species of birds.
True, you'll be sharing space with a healthy dose of human wildlife as well. But those millions of swarming outdoor fiends will be spread out over more than half a million acres, and outside the park, national forests like Pisgah and Cherokee give you even more room to spread out. In fact, the entire region is full of activities: Knoxville, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina, are two towns as focused on enjoying the outdoors as they are on maintaining their southern charm.
So get out there! The preponderance of national forests and public lands make for a wealth of outdoor opportunity. From 6,643-foot Clingmans Dome to Douglas Lake, you'll find hiking, biking, paddling, and skiing opportunities to keep you busy for weeks.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication