Put on a party hat and grab your hiking boots: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is throwing the best 75th birthday celebration since your grandma's party at the bingo parlor.
Celebrating the years since it was established as a national park in 1934, the Smokies are throwing a big, yearlong party complete with early 1900's throwback hikes and Dolly Parton as the official ambassador.
If you've never been or just want to rediscover its grandeur, now's the perfect time to visit the park. Herd up your kids and take them to National Junior Ranger Day on April 25 or go on a spring wildflower pilgrimage that takes place throughout the year. If you've never experienced the twangy pickings of a banjo, head over to the Music of the Mountains festival on March 28.
Or celebrate the park's birthday like we would--on the trail. The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club is sponsoring Seventy-Five Miles of Hikes, a series of hikes that send you ambling across trails that were used before the park was established. You can hit specific trails with the Club, such as summitting Mount Le Conte via the Alum Cave (check out BACKPACKER's GPS-enabled trip here) or hiking along the Porters Creek Trail.
If guided hikes aren't really your thing, search out your own hikes with the help of our featured trips in the park which include sections of the Appalachian Trail. Toast fellow hikers with trail bars, put some Dolly on your iPod and revel in the past 75 years of smokiness.
Great Smoky Mountains 75th Anniversary Web Site
Image credit: Aviator31