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Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches across more than 800 square miles of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The park is home to amazing wildlife, breathtaking views all year long and some of the oldest mountains in the world.
The park welcomed a record 12,547,743 visitors in 2019, which is 1,126,540 more visitors than in 2018 – making it the most visited national park in the United States.
The crest of the Great Smokies runs in an unbroken chain of peaks that rise more than 5,000 feet for more than 36 miles. Elevations in the park range from 876 to 6,643 feet – at Clingman’s Dome.
The Top 10 Peaks (elevation in feet)
Clingmans Dome – 6,643
Mount Guyot – 6,621
Mount Le Conte (High Top) – 6,593
Mount Buckley – 6,580
Mount Love – 6,420
Mount Chapman – 6,417
Old Black – 6,370
Luftee Knob – 6,234
Mount Kephart – 6,217
Mount Collins – 6,118
The park is home to many animal species including black bears, elk, white-tailed deer, turkey, salamanders and hundreds of native and migratory birds. Cataloochee Valley and Cades Cove offer great opportunities for viewing wildlife. Don’t feed the animals or try to interact with them. These are WILD animals, remember.
The Smokies are home to as many as 1 million wildflowers. Take a walk on any given spring day and you’ll be amazed.
Check out this video
Ample rainfall (85″+ per year) and elevation gradients in the Smokies are the perfect recipe for waterfalls. Sizes and flow can range from small trickles found on most streams, to cascades and waterfalls up to 100 feet high. Some of the most popular waterfalls are:
It was originally called the Great Iron Mountains.
Before John D. Rockefeller and president Franklin D. Roosevelt worked to establish the national park, the Smoky Mountains were once called The Great Iron Mountains. This name is ironic because very little iron was ever found there. The current name was eventually adopted by early settlers to the area in honor of the fog that forms among the trees in the mountains.
It is home to more native trees than all of Europe.
There are more trees in the Smokies than in all of Europe. Here are the top forests you’ll find in the area:
- Cove Hardwood forest – consists of a high number of large trees, including sugar maple, yellow birch, and other broad-leaved trees
- Northern Hardwood forest – found in elevations above 4,500 feet on northern-facing slopes and usually includes yellow birch, American beech, and maple trees
- Spruce-Fir forest – covers roughly 25 miles of the mountain crest in the national park
- Hemlock forest – known for its dense understory of rhododendron and hemlock trees that reach over 100 feet tall
- Pine and Oak forest – covers the dry exposed mountain slopes, as well as the rockier terrain
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park never closes.
Unlike many of the other attractions in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park never closes. However, it doesn’t mean a trail or area of the park may temporarily close due to high bear activity or weather conditions. Stay up to date weather and trail conditions in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park so you know what to expect while you’re in town.
Five different hiking trails lead to Mount LeConte.
Mount LeConte is the tallest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains. There isn’t just one hiking trail that will get you to the top; there are 5.
- Boulevard Trail (16 miles round trip)
- Alum Cave Trail (11 miles round trip)
- Rainbow Falls (13.4 miles round trip)
- Trillium Gap Trail (13.4 miles round trip)
- Bull Head Trail (14.4 miles round trip)
Home to the tallest dam in the Eastern United States
Fontana Dam is located in the Southeastern corner of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Standing at 480 feet tall and 2,265 feet long, this dam is easily the tallest concrete dam east of the Mississippi River. Operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Fontana Dam is used to help create electricity for residents of the Tennessee Valley.
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Pat and Don Kirchhoefer owners
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