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Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

Wichita, Kansas
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Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

My wife and I have the opportunity to move to either Sacramento, CA (a few hours drive from Yosemite) or Knoxville, TN (an hour drive from Great Smoky Mountains). We currently live in Kansas, and our main motivation for moving is to get closer to outdoor recreational opportunities, especially hiking. I am curious which park offers better hiking opportunities. After researching on the internet, I know both have 700-800 miles of hiking trails, but I'm curious which one has "better" hiking. Our previous hiking & backpacking experience has been in Washington State, Alaska, and New Zealand. Never hiked the AT and not sure what the quality of the east coast mountains is like. We are both in our late 20's and in good physical condition. We enjoy hiking for the views, the solitued, and, of course, the opportunity to see wildlife.

Is there anyone out there who has experienced both parks and can help us better understand the differences between the two?

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1. Re: Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

I am not familiar with Yosemite. California is a very expensive state to live in. I have visited there quite often. Based on my limited knowledge I suggest Knoxville. You would have to become a Volunteer fan though. Knoxville is a great city and offers a lot. The river running through town offers fun things to do and it's very scenic. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great attraction over 400 miles long in VA, NC and TN when you have time to travel and look for wonderful scenery.

I have a good bit of experience with GSMNP. Hiking can be a lot of fun there. There are great towns, shopping, food and tourist attractions. The Gatlinburg area is a great attraction for families except it gets too crowded in the summer. One advantage I believe GSMNP won't be as hard hiking as Yosemite. I imagine Yosemite has greater elevations. The mountains in GSMNP are probably not as high as Yosemite. They are gorgeous though. TN is a great state and offers a lot between the BBQ and Blues in Memphis to the music and fine dining in Nashville. And it's not a long drive from Knoxville up I 81 to VA and DC. Asheville, NC is a close neighbor and offers plenty of attractions and fine dining. Good luck.

San Francisco
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27 reviews
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2. Re: Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

I saw your post on the Yosemite forum and followed it over here.

While California is likely a more expensive state to live in overall than TN (state income tax, sales tax,etc.), housing prices in the Sacramento area are*substantially* lower than in the Bay Area (or any coastal area for that matter).

Further, California has more than mountain areas to hike. The deserts (Death Valley, Joshua Tree and my own beloved Anza-Borrego) make for wonderful hiking spaces as well. I do not think there is another state with such varied climates and outdoor opportunities (although it's a pretty big state ~grin~).

I agree with the response you got on the Yosemite forum, you really should visit both before deciding.

Bartlett, Tennessee
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3. Re: Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

I agree with RamblinSal I would visit both of them then make a decision.Moving to a new area can be stressful and hard to handle at times,I was born and raised in Tennessee but have been all over the world and we plan on moving to Gatlinburg in a year in a half as soon as my daughter gets out of high school and go's away to college and I think she might go to UT Knoxville(Go Vol's) then we wouldnt be far from her and she can come home on the weekends.But I do think I would visit both to get a feel for the area's.We love The Smoky Mountains and it is very pretty but I do think Yosemite is alot bigger and more to explore.

Cullowhee, North...
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4. Re: Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

Knoxville TN hands down. For starters California is on the verge bankruptcy and their fiscal house being in dissarray will likely impact your wallet given they elected a tax loving governor. With that said, the mountains in the east are vastly different than those in the west. The Smokies, or Appalachains are more weathered and rolling. The ones in the west are more, well everything. Both are equally beautiful in their own right. I am not sure I would make my career move choices on which national park is better though.

Arkansas Ozarks
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5. Re: Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

I have visited and hiked in both. I much prefer the Smokies to Yosemite for camping and hiking. I lived in TN for 13 years. The overall cost of living is much less in TN than CA. But if at all possible, I would visit both before I made a decision about moving. Another nice thing about living in Knoxville is that is about a day's drive to the Gulf Coast -- white sand, warm water, and more outdoor fun as opposed to the much colder water of the Pacific Ocean in CA.

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6. Re: Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

they're very different places. the views of course are bigger and grander in Yosemite. but, what makes the smokies so outstanding is the rain forest. outside of the valleys and out of season, Yosemite is a dry place... the smokies are constantly wet, and thick with vegetation as a consequence. this makes the big open vistas few and far between. on the other hand, you'll appreciate those special places more, the harder you have to work for them.

anyway... as folks have already pointed out... we won't be able to make this decision for ya. they're both premier hiking destinations, but very different. though, i'd definitely rather live in East Tenn than Central Cali.

Edited: 30 November 2010, 16:45
7. Re: Yosemite or Great Smoky Mountain National Park?

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