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 wildlife, LeConte Creek and the park’s rolling mountains and tree-filled landscapes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Laugh Out Loud
Order Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors. This gorgeous book is from the wildly popular creator of @subparparks (https://www.instagram.com/subparparks/) and features illustrated one-star reviews of over 75 our nation’s national parks along with informative text, anecdotes and tips from park rangers and more.