The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most popular national parks in the US with over 10 million visitors every year.
The Mountains can be found between the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee. It is so large that it can be reached from many cities. You can get there by plane.
You will be taken to either Knoxville (45 miles west) or Asheville (60 miles east). If traveling by car, the entryway is north via Gatlinburg in Tennessee. From the south in North Carolina you can get in via Bryson City or Cherokee.
What to See
Go to the Visitors Center to get help on what to see, where to go, maps and other info. The Oconaluftee Visitors Center is for the North Carolina half and the Sugarlands Visitors Center for Tennessee. The rainforest and the mountains are the main attractions.
There are several hiking trails for hikers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The best known is the Appalachian Trail which crosses the site. You can also take a cruise around Cades Cove. This valley is known for its diverse wildlife. You can also visit Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the area.
The park was created on June 15, 1934. 11 million USD was spent to purchase the lands. Dedication of the park took place on September 2, 1940 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 95% of the site is forested. The elevation differs.
In some areas it is as low as 800 feet but in others it can rise up 6,650 feet. This means the weather can fluctuate depending on the location. The temperature ranges from 10 to 20 F. Rainfall is about 55 inches annually at the lowland areas.
There is no entrance fee to the park. If you are going to camp near your vehicle, you have to pay anywhere from 12 to 20 USD.
The park has over one hundred tree variants. In addition, there are 4,000 non-flowering plants and 1,400 flowering plant species. There are 50 types of native fish, over 60 mammal types and hundreds of bird species. You will also come upon numerous types of snakes, amphibians and other reptiles.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park forbids drinking of alcoholic beverages except at campgrounds and lodging facilities. Visitors are also forbidden from consuming the water in the streams.