Tennessee sings praises of its outdoors tourism

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“It was a phenomenal area, beautiful and well-maintained,” he said. “It was a nice experience and just what you hope for when hiking.”

For a 4,100-foot walking trail, Rock City Gardens atop Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga draws nearly half-a-million people from throughout the world every year.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said Tennessee fish represent one of the most diverse collections in North America. There are 29 major reservoirs and 19,000 miles of warm- and cold-water streams.

The Appalachian Trail covers 284 miles along the state’s eastern border, mostly within the Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Nine million people a year visit the 500,000-acre Smokies, making it the most popular national park.

The state’s push to publicize itself as an outdoor paradise is not a major departure from stressing Tennessee’s music.

“The staff certainly realizes music and outdoors are regularly vying for the top spot among travelers to Tennessee,” said Cindy Dupree, spokeswoman for the tourism department.

Mr. Olsen, reflecting on his hike in the park, said Tennessee can reap rewards from its campaign.

“Outdoor recreation has huge benefits for tourism,” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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