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Gatlinburg TN - Overview
Gatlinburg, Tennessee is best known as the western entrance to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg is noted for its mountain handicraft shops, and local points of interest include the Homespun Valley Mountaineer Village and the Christus Gardens, a series of dioramas depicting the life of Christ. But most come to see and enjoy the Great Smokey Mountains.
The Great Smokey Mountains National Park is 20 miles wide and some 54 miles long. The park was established in 1934 to preserve the last remaining sizeable area of southern primeval hardwood forest in the United States. It covers over 520,000 acres and it contains some of the highest peaks of the Appalachian Mountains.
Summits and ridges are crowned with a forest of red spruce and Fraser fir. In the open areas purple and pink blossoming rhododendron can be seen. Hiking is the most popular activity, whether a day trip or as part of a hike up the length of the entire Appalachian Trail. Some of the families who first settled this area have descendents who live and farm in much the same way as in years gone by. The area containing those farms was designated a World Heritage Site in 1983.
Visitors come to the Smokies, the most popular area administered by the US National Park Service, to hike, fish, camp, ski, whitewater raft, and enjoy this well-preserved national treasure. There are world-class spas as well as theme parks and resorts throughout the area. All of these draw their inspiration from the abundant natural beauty.