Yes, our national parks are grappling with the loss of millions of dollars due to the failure of Congress and the Obama administration to treat the country's ailing fiscal condition, but they're still open, and still spectacular places to explore.
Stand in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and you can't help but be enthralled by the lush forests and rolling mountains that surround you. Though a somewhat old landscape to modern civilization, the park continues to toss surprises in terms of the species that inhabit it.
Part of the fun of the National Park System is exploring the various units to see what they have to offer. Here's a look at parks the Traveler "explored" in 2012.