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The Dolly Sods Wilderness
Photography courtesy of West Virginia Department of Commerce
Despite its relative proximity to Pigeon Forge, the Dolly Sods Wilderness has, unfortunately, nothing to do with Dolly Parton. Part of the Monongahela National Forest, Dolly Sods (as it is known to locals) is a 17,371-acre micro-tundra that looks like it was picked up in Canada and dropped into West Virginia—think jagged plateaus, wind-sculpted rock, gnarly trees, heaps of snow and rain, and even resident cold-weather creatures like snowshoe hare. In warmer months, explore the area’s seriously charming heathlands of blueberry, azalea, laurel, huckleberry, and other wildflowers—there’s even the odd cranberry bog. It’s a bizarrely beautiful crossroads of climate, elevation, precipitation, and flora complete with nearly 20 public hiking trails. And don’t leave without trekking over to the neighboring 8,500-acre Caanan Valley, Appalachia’s largest wetland.