Top Ten Alternative National and State Parks

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (Instead of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina)
  |  Gorp.com
Waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park
Lush trailside scenery in Shenandoah National Park (Robert Cable/Photographer's Choice/Getty)

1. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
(Instead of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina)
Want to get out on the trail in the southern Appalachians without the nine million people who visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park last year? Head to Shenandoah National Park instead, which has 300 square miles of Blue Ridge Mountains to explore with a fraction of the crowds (it had just over one million visitors in 2008). Forty percent of Shenandoah is designated wilderness, making it nirvana for backcountry lovers. With more than 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, there's plenty of room to seek out your own piece of wildnerness. Trek through hardwood forests to a riot of waterfalls, including 93-foot-high Overall Run Falls, one of Virginia's longest continuous waterfalls. Or summit Stony Man or Hawksbill peaks (both top out over 4,000 feet) and drink in that magical blue mist that blankets the area. If you'd rather see the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the comfort of a car, drive along 105-mile Skyline Drive, which provides plenty of overlooks to take in the rolling valleys below.

GORP's Shenandoah National Park Guide


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