Outside Magazine reveals Smokies ‘secrets’

I’m a great fan of the outdoors, most recently spending a week camping in Utah, and I subscribe to all manner of outdoor magazines. Every month, these periodicals almost always have some sort of collection of short articles on parks or towns across the United States. The May issue of Outside Magazine has a headline across the cover that reads “National Park Secrets–22 New Hideouts. Zero Crowds.”

So, hope springing eternal, I turn to the section on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the “secret.” The first part is some good advice from guidebook writer Johnny Molloy, who knows his stuff. He suggests crossing Fontana Lake and approaching the Appalachian Trail from the Eagle Creek arm of the lake via Lost Cove. Sounds good to me, and certainly counts as a secret.

The rest of the article is a joke. The unnamed writer, under the heading “Crash Pad,” suggests staying at LeConte Lodge and gives the contact information. What he or she doesn’t tell readers is that LeConte Lodge is the singlemost difficult hostelry in Tennessee for which to secure reservations–an entire season gets snapped up just days after reservations are opened up for the year. There’s no “crashing” there–you have to plan months in advance.

Uh, thanks for the insider information there, ace.

The writer also makes the very common mistake of confusing the number of visits to the Park with the number of visitors. The Park Service reports that 9.3 million visits were made to the Smokies in 2006. Visits are not the same as visitors–the actual number of which is a mere fraction of 9.3 million. If that many people actually came to the Park in one year, the roads would be gridlocked beyond imagination.

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This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

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