It’s hard to be in the moment these days when there’s an almost-gravitational pull to look at the news on our phones for the one-billionth time. But one of the most powerful lessons we’ve learned while traveling is how valuable it is to immerse ourselves in the experience at hand. To refocus your attention away from the news, here are 8 exceptional ways to have fun and be present, Great Smoky Mountains National Park-style.

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Do a Puzzle

Focus your attention on putting together a gorgeous image of scenic sunset in America’s most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This 1,000-piece puzzle will keep you occupied while giving you a glimpse of the Smoky’s rolling mountains and tree-filled landscapes. - Great Smoky Mountains Puzzle

Play Cards

Who doesn’t want to play cards with this amazing set  that features 12 national parks on its face cards, including Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains and Zion national parks. 

National Park Playing Cards

Listen to Dolly

Country singer Dolly Parton grew up in the shadow of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and her music was inspired by her rural upbringing and the music played along the Smoky’s backroads. Relax as you listen to Ultimate Dolly Parton, a compilation of 19 of her songs, including the hit Islands in the Sky, which she sang with the late Kenny Rogers. - Ultimate Dolly Parton Music CD

If you visit Dollywood, an amusement park she co-founded 10 miles from the park entrance, you can find a replica of her two-room rustic childhood home where she and her 11 brothers and sisters were raised. Her original home is still up on Locust Ridge, a handful of miles from the park but a reality away from the opulence of Dollywood.

Immerse Yourself in a Book (or two)

Curl up with a beautiful book about the park, its people and deep history called The Great Smoky Mountains National Park by Steve Cotham. Cotham brings to life the stories of a park that was once occupied by 10 lumber companies and a number of families through photos and first-hand accounts. - The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Book

Kids ages 8-12 will enjoy reading about a fictional mystery with the Landon family that takes place in Great Smoky Mountains National Park called Night of the Black Bear: A Mystery in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, part of the Mysteries in Our National Parks book series by Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson. - Night of the Black Bear Book

Start Coloring

Get in touch with your artistic side with the stunning The National Parks Coloring Book by Jen Racine. You’ll feel like an artiste as you work on these pages featuring 24 of the most popular national parks in the country. 

The National Parks Coloring Book by Jen Racine

Ignite Your Child’s Imagination

Are your kids complaining about being bored? Let them take themselves on a virtual trip to 20 national parks with National Parks of the U.S.A. Kids ages 6-9 will love this beautiful, award-winning hardcover book by Kate Silber and illustrated by Chris Turnham, which covers 20 national parks with gorgeous maps, illustrations and fun trivia about the animals and flowers that inhabit the parks. It’s available in hard cover. - National Parks of the U.S.A.

Play a National Parks Board Game

Looking for an award-winning board games that highlights the amazing national parks across the country? Play Trekking the National Parks, in which players compete for points by claiming park cards and collecting trail stones as they travel across the country, stopping at national parks along the way. Every park card has a beautiful park photo accompanied by an interesting fact, inspiring and educating players. - Trekking the National Parks: The Family Board Game


Yellow sunset in the misty mountains of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park Virtually

You don’t have to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park in person to experience its spectacular mountains, valleys and waterfalls.

Sunset over the Smoky Mountains in autumn

10 Best Things to Do on a Great Smoky Mountains Vacation

Don’t leave the park without ticking off at least one of these top ten Smokies to-dos including historic sites, grand overlooks, wildlife, and waterfalls.

Bull elk grazing near the Palmer Chapel in Cataloochee Valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

48 Hours in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It’s our nation’s busiest park, so here are tips on how to see the best of Great Smoky in just two days. Make the most of your time by visiting some of our favorite spots in both the Tenn. and N.C. sides of the park.

The Tremont River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Water Safety in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Water is everywhere in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although the waterfalls and streams are beautiful, these waters can also be dangerous.

Woman hiking next to a cascade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What to Pack for a Great Smoky Mountains Park Vacation

How do you pack for the nation’s most visited park? Here are the top 14 items to bring to the park.

Kids on the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

10 Things to Do With Kids in Great Smoky Mountains Park

Sweeping views that are easy to get to, many old historic buildings to explore, and picnic spots galore, make it one of the most family-friendly national parks in the east.

Misty Morning at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Chicago to Nashville and Great Smoky Mountains Road Trip

Explore Chicago's architecture, Louisville's underground, and Nashville's music before making base camp at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Visitors walking down Thanksgiving Hall in Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park, a Half-Day Drive from Great Smoky

Steer away from the crowds at America’s most visited national park by going underground in nearby Kentucky.

Log cabin in the mountains.

5 Romantic Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The park is a fantastic place to spend a romantic weekend, celebrate Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, or to just spend time together.