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    Posted June 18, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel photo of the day

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    Backpacking in the Smokey Mountains


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Backpacking a few times a year and often going hiking, DCulpPhoto says he started in Cades Cove and hiked almost 4000 vertical feet to reach the knob known as Rocky Top where this photo was taken. "The Smokey Mountains are one of the most visited places in the U.S., but not enough people get out of their cars to see the how wild they can really be," he says. "It's not often that you experience such a beautiful scene combined with such a physical trip. It is something more people should seek in life." This photo was featured as CNN's Travel Photo of the Day for July 12, 2012!
    - Anika3, CNN iReport producer

    The setting sun lights up the flame azaleas and highlights the ridges of the Smokey Mountains just outside of Cades Cove, Tn.
    For people in good health looking for cool weather and a sense of adventure without the hassle of extreme travel, look no further than the Cades Cove area of Tennessee. With a very simple and free back country permit, you can camp and see the best mountains on the East Coast.
    This particular shot was taken at sunset atop the very well known bluff known as Rocky Top. While it is no easy task to get to it, the view and serenity is amazing. On this particular day, we spent hours hiking uphill and totaled over 13 miles to reach the summit around 5500 ft.
    Campsites and Appalachian Trail shelters are all around the area and offer peacefulness even when the crowds of Cades Cove are lining up bumper to bumper miles below. Reservations are required at the camp sites. Bring layers as the weather in the mountains can change drastically even in the summer.
    Contact the Great Smokey Mountains ranger station for permits and details: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/index.htm.
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