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Beat the Crowds on the Quiet Side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, split between Tennesee and North Carolina, is the country’s most visited national park. Like, by a lot. A lot, a lot. This park, which is free to visit, btw, saw over 12 million visitors last year. Twelve! Million! The next most-visited park only saw a little over three! So yeah, it’s safe to say that the Smokies are overrun with tourists and visitors, especially if you’re on the south side of the park around the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fortunately, there’s a trick to avoiding the massive amounts of people (and traffic) rambling through the area: head to the quiet side of the Smokies, the northern edge where there are still picturesque hiking trails and adventures galore, just a lot fewer people. Wanna know what things to do on the peaceful side of the Smokies? Here’s what we recommend.

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Woman stands on the edge of a lake with a backpack and trekking poles in Isle Royale National Park.

Backpacking on Isle Royale – Guide to Isle Royale National Park

Not gonna lie, a little over a year ago when my dad said, “I really wanna go backpacking in Isle Royale National Park next summer; wanna come?” I was 100% not sure where the heck Isle Royale even was. So after a quick map search (it’s an island in Lake Superior) and a brief discussion of whether it’s pronounced roy-al as in Royale with cheese or roil as in the royal family (park rangers use the latter pronunciation), followed by a hearty bout of laughter brought on by my parents thinking I plan more than a month in advance…Isle Royal National Park was suddenly very much on my radar.

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Surprising Destination: Things to do Outdoors in Beaumont, Texas

Beaumont, Texas isn’t on most people’s radar. Most Texans aren’t even aware of all the outdoorsy goodness this city in Southeast Texas has to offer. But allow us to remedy that! Because besides being the largest city between Houston and New Orleans, there’s plenty to entice outdoor enthusiasts to make Beaumont more than a pit stop on their way to someplace else (Big Thicket National Preserve, for starters). So grab your day pack and a dry bag or two and get moving! Because there are plenty of things to do outdoors in Beaumont.

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Surprising Destinations: An Outdoorsy Weekend in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Wisconsin. Not gonna lie, it’s not really a state that was ever high on our list of places to visit, even growing up in the midwest. I mean, isn’t the whole state just one big block of cheese? Sure, I had passed through Wisconsin’s borders a time or two growing up, but the state as a whole never really left an impression. Until now. But that’s the thing about some destinations: they’re so nestled away you’d never even know they existed until you find yourself knocking at their door. That is Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin: a delightful little retreat just 2.5 hours away from Chicago, but just secluded enough that many city dwellers in nearby Sheboygan don’t even realize what’s sitting right on their doorstep. A surprising destination that offers a chill getaway that’s absolutely worth considering.

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