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Top 3: Better in Winter

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What off season? Bundle up and reap the benefits of colder weather in these snowy playgrounds.

Smokies Adventure Guide (2012 National Parks Series: Part 5 of 6)

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Leave it to our seasoned map contributors to find solitude in America's most-visited park. This exclusive trip planner serves up routes guaranteed to get you off the tourist trail and into deep wilderness.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Mid-Smokies Circuit

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String together the Appalachian, Benton MacKaye, and Mountains-to-Sea Trails for a 48-mile instant classic that hits the park's best views and backcountry campsites.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Chimney Tops via Newfound Gap

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Follow fern-lined trails to scramble up a rocky pinnacle.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Maddron Bald Loop

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Pass waterfalls, cross empty peaks, and visit monster-size trees.

The Other Way In

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Hike to life-list hot spots without waiting in life-list lines. These under-the-radar trails deliver everything but the crowds.

National Parks: Great Smoky Mountains

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For guaranteed solitude in the park's southwest reaches, explore this quiet loop during the off-season.

Going to Extremes

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Can you ever really have too much of a good thing? Once you've seen the biggest tree, largest glacier, and deepest canyon, nothing else compares.

Get Higher: Best Firetower Hikes

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For sheltered scenery high above the trees, there's no better place than a fire tower. Try one of these editor-approved hikes to backcountry rooms with a view.

Rip & Go: Thunderhead Loop

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Hike from forest floor to a rocky ridge linking twin summits in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Rip & Go: Big Creek Loop

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Hike from a wildlife-choked river valley to soaring mountain views.

Readers' Choice: Appalachians

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Your favorite parks, weekend getaways, peak ascents, campsites, and more in the Appalachians.

National Parks Center

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We've collected the best hikes, most amazing photos, and mind-blowing videos for the ultimate National Park planning center. Get inspired and get hiking now!

Gear Checklist: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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From the deep wooded hollows to the lofty Appalachian summits prepare for rain (Clingmans Dome, the park's high point, averages 85 inches each year), humidity, rapidly varying weather conditions, and lots of creek crossings. Here's what you'll need.

Perfect Substitutes: Crowd-Free Destinations

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You know that the big-name parks draw big-time crowds. But each of those outdoor icons has a lesser-known replacement that offers some of the same classic features and epic scenery–and you get it all to yourself.

National Parks Hall of Fame: Best Wildflowers

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Smelling the flowers doesn't require slowing down your trek (though you might want to) through the explosion of wildflowers that cover the Great Smoky Mountains each year.

National Parks Lifelist

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The ultimate vacation in one of America's iconic parks requires the ultimate hiking plan: classic scenery, no crowds, and secret campsites. Here's how to spend a perfect week in Glacier, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Olympic, Denali, and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Denali National Park

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Hike with grizzlies in this remote northern corner of Alaska's greatest park.

Yellowstone National Park

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America's first national park is a playground for grizzlies, wolves, moose, and hikers (not in that order).

Olympic National Park

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Explore two ecosystems in this hinterland of moss-draped forests, ancient trees, and snowcapped peaks.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Graze blueberry patches, explore swimming holes, and tag the South's high points on this sultry hike.

Grand Canyon National Park

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Drop into America's belly on a little-known hike that dips in and out of four different canyons, each blessed with gurgling spring water.

Yosemite National Park

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Climb classic Sierra passes, ogle granite monoliths, and camp above treeline in John Muir's second home.

Glacier National Park

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Scramble up class III peaks and cross late summer snowfields on this strenuous but straightforward trip through Montana's big-mountain country.

National Parks Lifelist: Intro

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How Your Kid Can Save a Park

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Send him out on a work trip. Let wilderness do the rest.

How to Light a Campfire in the Smokies

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Trees, trees are everywhere, but sometimes there isn't a dry twig in sight.

National Park Vacation Planners: 3D Videos and Downloadable Beta

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3-D hike videos, complete trip planner pdfs, our interactive ParkFinder tool, and more.

How to Score Denali's Choicest Permits

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The system was rigged, says a former ranger. Here's how to beat it.

Essential National Park Skills: The Ultimate Park Pass

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Write your own ticket to new adventures with these 10 territory-expanding skills.

Weekend Adventures: Big Tree Hikes

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Get ready to feel puny--and profoundly grateful--on three hikes through ancient forests.

America's Hardest Dayhikes

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Push yourself on any of these challenging hikes

High Points: Clingmans Dome, Tennessee

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A downright goofy dome marks this highpoint.

Fall Hiking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Mellow temperatures, low water and autumn colors make for a perfect time in the Smokies

Secrets Hikes Of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Can a place that sees 9 million visitors a year really have any surprises? You bet. We found three hikes full of unexpected history, scenery, and solitude.

Best Dayhikes In America

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With strong legs and an ambitious plan, you can see more wild country in 12 hours than some backpackers see in a week, and still make it home in time for dinner.

Best Backpacking In Tennessee

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Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in Tennessee.

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