- Purchase/rental options available:
In addition to the infrastructural and commercial changes it wrought in Tennessee and North Carolina, the development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park encouraged efforts to manage visitors' perceptions of nature. Organizations that shaped regional tourism after 1920 devoted themselves to making mountain recreation both an aesthetic and kinesthetic experience. Visitors were expected to earn their sightseeing while driving along scenic roads or hiking on backcountry trails. The attractive or inspiring scene—the photo opportunity—might have been the goal for many park guests, yet guidebook writers urged them to consider the sensations of their journey to the vista as the key to appreciating the outdoors. These were instructive landscapes, meant to teach travelers about natural history and beauty while training them to perform appropriately in wild environments. The engagement with landscape that regional promoters and outdoors groups supported was rigorous and required a certain level of affluence, technical proficiency, and aesthetic and ecological insights. This was, in other words, a vision quite distinct from scholarly and popular treatments of nature tourism as passive and packaged. Using hiking club records and boosters' marketing materials, this essay examines the practice and representation of leisure travel to reveal how class assumptions and professional orientations produced specific styles of sightseeing between 1920 and 1945.