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Great Smoky Mountains trip: Tennessee or North Carolina?

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We are planning a trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park the end of September, and are having trouble deciding which side of the park to choose as our base. ("We" includes 2 couples in our early 60's) . We plan to spend about 5 days hiking and just enjoying the beauty of the area, and want to rent a cabin with nice views and quiet/privacy to come back to at the end of the day.

Should we opt for North Carolina or Tennessee? Are there towns we should look at if we do VRBO? We have heard that Gatlinburg is the best area to access the prettiest sights/hikes, but are open to anywhere.

Thanks for any help or advice you can give us!

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