For a Quieter, More Relaxed Smoky Mountains Vacation, Discover the North Carolina Smokies

Filmmaker Ken Burns talks about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park's half-million acres are equally divided between Tennessee and North Carolina. And with roughly forty percent of the Park in Swain County, Bryson City is the ideal spot for a relaxing Smoky Mountain vacation — away from the more carnival atmosphere of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Even though the GSMNP is the nation's most-visited national park, most visitors only experience a small portion of the Park. The most popular areas are along US 441 between Gatlinburg and Cherokee and Cades Cove. But there's a lot more to see and do, particularly in North Carolina's half of the Park. Check out this list of fun, free things do in the Park on the North Carolina side.