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Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the United States at 14,491 feet or thereabouts, since there is no consensus on the exact height. Located east of the town of Lone Pine along Highway 395 it is part of the John Muir Wilderness, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.


Anyone wishing to enter the area must have a permit; as it is located in these protected areas. There are two types of permit: day use or overnight so be sure to check all the rules for use. It is a lottery type system and all applications must be in by February. All permits are obtained by mail for $15 with checks made out to USDA Forest Service. These permits are valid from May 1st through November 1st only and entrance is governed by a quota system.


Hikers will find many trails to climb with the main trail being the aptly named, Mt. Whitney Trail. Both the 21.4 mile long Mt. Whitney Trail and the 15.4 mile long Mountaineers Trail begin and end at Whitney Portal which is at about 8,000 feet. The 72.2 mile long High Sierra is figured from a start point at Crescent Meadow at 6,700 feet and ending at Whitney Portal. These are round trip numbers to help you gauge which one you wish to tackle.


The first recorded ascent was in 1873 and this hiking this mountain is considered strenuous. Due to the height a two day period at the 8,000 foot level to acclimate is advised. The 73-room Best Western Frontier in Lone Pine offers you nice rooms with complimentary breakfast, laundry facilities, meeting rooms and a heated outdoor swimming pool. Temperatures here during climbing/hiking season are in the 70’s and 80’s so you will definitely need your Coppertone® on the slope or by the pool.


Now remember the higher you go the cooler it can get but the UV rays intensify. Visit Inyo National Forest, Mt. Whitney fish hatchery, John Muir Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park and the historical site at Manzanar, which are all within driving distance. While in this area visit the giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park or take a day trip to Death Valley, how extreme can you get?

The Smoky Mountains are a spectacular place to visit. These mountains are located on the western border of North Carolina and eastern part of Tennessee and are famous for their towering waterfalls, sweeping panoramic views, great bounty of wildlife and huge old trees.


The best times to visit are in the spring just as the flowers are starting to bloom and the waterfalls are running full force from the melting snow. Another great time to see the Great Smoky Mountains is in the fall when the colors begin changing to perfect artistic paints of yellows, oranges and reds.


One reason why these colors are more dramatic here in the Smoky Mountains; rather than somewhere else, is because of the diversity of many native trees – about 100 different species. The park is the most-visited national park in the United States. The national park has 850 miles of trails including 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail.


The park is also 95 percent forested with the lowest elevation of 876 feet at the mouth of Abrams Creek where there are many camp grounds and cabins. The summit of Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in Tennessee at 6,643 feet, the second highest east of the Mississippi (Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina is 6,684 feet).


The mountains have a history spanning thousands of years from the prehistoric Paleo Indians to early European settlement in the 1800s to loggers and conservation corps in the twentieth century. The park staff works very hard to protect all the historic structures, the artifacts and the landscapes.


The national park does not offer and lodging within the park, however there are communities surrounding the park where visitors will find hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds.



-Ms. Suntan


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