lakeview-at-fontana.jpgWith American travelers forecasted to plan more trips to national parks this year, the Great Smoky Mountains offer one of the country’s most cost-efficient vacations in the great outdoors. Listed in the ShermansTravel spotlight “Top Places to Go in 2009,” this outdoor playground boasts over 500,000 acres of pristine forest with an abundance of opportunities for scenic drives, hiking, biking, and whitewater rafting. Admission to the park is always completely free, and as this year marks the 75th anniversary of its founding (www.greatsmokies75th.org), many additional complimentary activities are planned, including musical performances and special ranger-led programs. Try a rustic stay at the secluded Lakeview at Fontana, a boutique resort with a charming courtyard, gourmet coffeehouse, yoga studio, and spa. Nightly rates, starting April 3, start at $79.

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