The Great Smoky Mountains may be less majestic than the Rocky Mountains. But the Smokies are softer and lusher in comparison. The hiker or tourist can walk along barefooted and wade in any number of streams. In certain locales they can pick up the scent of burning hardwood. They can sit on a moss covered rock and look out at mountain range after mountain range.
Sadly, as one of the judges for the National Geographic Traveler's annual rating of worldwide travel destinations said, the Smokies are "a national treasure surrounded by a bathtub ring of ugly unplanned development." This pristine area is being ruined by tacky little tourist towns like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. There are so many tourists pressed together a visitor can get carried along for blocks without ever touching the sidewalk. The traffic jams are worse than in New York City. Maybe they should take a lesson from Vail or Aspen where cars are severely restricted.
Knoxnews reported "the panel used six criteria in judging the destinations - environmental and ecological quality; social and cultural integrity; condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites; aesthetic appeal; quality of tourism management; and outlook for the future.
Personally, I recommend staying in Townsend, TN to avoid all the crowds and to be able to smell the roses instead of the gas fumes and tourists.