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December 6, 2012

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You could spend weeks cruising along the Rocky Top Trail of Tennessee and never get tired of soaking up the spirits of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is, after all, the home of Dollywood, that legendary Sevier County theme park, and what now ranks as Sevier County's second largest attraction, Wilderness at the Smokies.

Open since 2008, Wilderness sits just off the well-traveled parkway that links these tourism towns. The resort features more than 700 guest rooms with plush interiors. You can even order full kitchens in units, yet still have the convenience of a hotel staff on site.

Now for the best year-round attraction: all that water in the Wild WaterDome indoor waterpark, with a see-through roof allowing you to get a tan even during winter.

The hot tub stretches both inside and out; expect the thrill of a chill in the frostiness of fall.

You can also can grab a tube and ride the Great Wave, a must-do water-wave pool that is absolutely addictive.

Wilderness at the Smokies, in turn, features the Runaway Canyon, a slide ride for families, plus the Trail Twisters - a couple of tube runs that can accommodate multiple riders.

Keeping, of course, with its proximity to the Smokies, the names of meeting rooms are called by tree species - Birch, Maple and Oak - at the recently-added Adventure Forest, standing next to the indoor water park. Here, you'll find arcade games and a ropes course plus a moonshine theme gracing the black-light indoor mini-golf. Playing these nine holes actually feels like you're running from the revenue agents as you slip past an outhouse, a general store - and, of course, a moonshine still.

Around the bend, look for the Copperhead Laser Maze. "The reason we named it Copperhead," says hotel manager Steve Cruz, "is because you have to snake your way through all the lasers."

IF YOU GO: Wilderness at the Smokies, Sevierville, Tenn., (877) 325-9453, wildernessatthesmokies.com.

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December 6, 2012

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