The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with its diverse life, is one of the United States’ UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is located in two states in Tennessee and North Carolina, whose state border runs right through the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Visit the Smoky Mountains Park and discover the enormous biodiversity of plants and animals, ancient mountains and historic buildings. For the best collections of historic log homes in the eastern United States, visit Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Oconaluftee, and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
In addition, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a variety of activities. It is a breathtaking sight, especially in autumn when the leaves on the trees change color. It is similar to the Indian Summer that stretches from New England to Canada.
Overall, the Great Smoky Park covers approximately 522,419 hectares, making it one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States. It lies in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains.
Access to Great Smoky National Park is through the main park entrances in the cities of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina.
Tennessee and North Carolina have received an important tourist attraction with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Surrounding cities, notably Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Townsend, Tennessee, and Cherokee, Sylva, Maggie Valley and Bryson City, North Carolina thrive on the tourism the park attracts. Its many attractions make it the most visited national park in the United States. More than twice as many visitors come as in the Grand Canyon.
- Iamaccepted: List of colleges and universities in Tennessee. Covers all 2-year, 4-year, private and public schools within the state of Tennessee.
History of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Before the arrival of European settlers, the region was home to the Cherokee Indians. But the Indians were expelled ( “Trail of Tears” – path of tears ). Some of their descendants now live in the Qualla Boundary in the south of the park.
In the late 19th century a railroad, the Little River Railroad, was built to aid logging. The landscape was badly damaged by the heavy logging, so the residents joined forces to preserve nature. They raised money to save the forest areas in the Smoky Mountains. They were supported by the National Park Service and the American Congress.
Travel writer Horace Kephart, after which Mount Kephart was named, and photographer George Masa were instrumental in promoting the development of Smoky Mountains Park.
The Great Mountains NP was then founded on June 15, 1934. In 1976 the park was designated an international biosphere reserve and in 1983 it was certified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In 1988, Great Smoky Park became part of the Southern Appalachia Biosphere Reserve.
Wetter & Klima im Great Smoky Mountains NP
The park typically has very high humidity and is one of the wettest regions in the United States. An average of 1,400 mm of precipitation per year falls in the valleys and up to 2,200 mm of precipitation per year on the peaks. In general, the temperatures here are always a bit cooler. Summers are warm, with lots of rain and cool nights. Winters are cold with some snowfall.
Flora & Fauna des Great Smoky Mountains Nationalparks
Due to the heavy rainfall and old-growth forests, Great Smoky Park has an unusual wealth of flora and fauna. The park is almost 95 percent forested, of which approximately 36 percent is virgin forest with many mature trees. Over 10,000 species of plants and animals, consisting of more than 200 species of birds, 66 species of mammals, 50 species of fish, 39 species of reptiles and 43 species of amphibians live here.
Here you can spot the following animals: white-tailed deer, bison, elk, gray wolves, mountain lions, marmots, rabbits, possums, raccoons, skunks, lynx, weasels, beavers and mink. In addition, many black bears live in the national park and over 100 species of trees.
Attractions and activities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
For hiking, there are 850 miles of trails and dirt roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of these, 70 miles belong to the Appalachian Trail, a hiking trail from Maine to Georgie that leads through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
There are also ten short learning trails in the park. Other hiking trails, such as the Clingmans Dome Trail, take visitors up a mountain to a fifty-foot-high observation deck at Clingmans Dome, which offers views of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and the surrounding mountains.
The Laurel Falls Trail leads to a powerful 24-foot waterfall. Via the Alum Cave Trail you can reach the summit of the Le Conte mountain (elevation 2,010 m). From here you have a view of the natural beauty of Alum Cave Bluffs and Arch Rock.
The hiking trails lead through dense forests, along many streams, up mountains and to many beautiful waterfalls. Many of the falls, about 40 in the park, rank among the top falls, such as Abrams Falls, Grotto Falls, Hen Wallow Falls, Indian Creek and Toms Branch Falls, Juney Whank Falls, Laurel Falls, Mingo Falls, Mouse Creek Falls, Rainbow Falls and the Ramsey Cascades.
Along with hiking, fishing is a popular activity in Great Smoky National Park. Many of the park’s torrents are teeming with fish.
Another popular activity in Great Smoky National Park is horseback riding, biking and rafting. Guided hikes and lectures around the campfire are also offered.
The main attraction of the Great Smoky Mountains Park is US Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road). It is the scenic road that runs through Smoky Park. Panoramic views at vantage points, rushing mountain streams, historical buildings and lots of nature are offered to you here.
Visitor Centers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are several visitor centers in Great Smoky Park to learn more about the national park. We have compiled the individual visitor centers for you here.
Sugarlands Visitor Center Sugarlands Visitor Center
is located on the north side of Great Mountains Park. The visitor center is open all year except Christmas. Here you can watch a free 20-minute film about the park, tour retail spaces, exhibits, and audiovisual rooms. Regular guided tours are also offered.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center
The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is open year round except for Christmas. Here you will find exhibits that show the history of life in the mountains. Everything about Native Americans, early European settlers and the development of the national park can be found here.
The adjoining Mountain Farm Museum consists of a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse and corn silo.
Cades Cove Visitor Center
Here you can see tools and objects from the settlers’ time. The Cades Cove Visitor Center is open every day except Christmas. It is located on Cades Cove Loop Road inside the park. Here you can see exhibits of the southern mountains, their life and culture. You’ll also find Cable Mill, a watermill, and the Becky Cable house.
Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station
The contact station is located at the Clingmans Dome trailhead on Clingmans Dome Road. You can find out more about the park here.