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Experience One of America's Great Travel Destination - The Great Smoky Mountain National Park
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On September 2, 1940 at Newfound Gap on the top of the Smoky Mountains, President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially dedicated the opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 521,000-acre parkland is considered a primary jewel in the crown of America’s national treasure. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is shared by two states, with Tennessee containing 45 percent of the national park and North Carolina the remaining 55 percent of the park.

Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America's most visited national park. The beauty of wildflowers and the sightings of wildlife natural to the Smoky Mountains are thrilling. Over 700 miles of trout streams crisscross the park with more than 800 miles of hiking trails including the Appalachian Trail, which traversed the entire length of the national park traveling along the highest mountain ridges and summits.

Enjoy the Numerous Outdoor Activities In The Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hiker's paradise with over 800 miles of maintained trails ranging from short leg-stretchers to strenuous treks that may require backcountry camping. But hiking is not the only reason for visiting the Smokies. Car camping, fishing, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and auto touring are popular activities. Check out our Things To Do page and read about all the numerous things to do in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park area.Bear on Camera

Explore the Wildlife

Wildlife in the Smokies National Park is abundant, and the vigilant or patient visitor can see various types of wildlife in almost any place in the National Park. Wild turkey and whitetail deer are the most likely to be seen, and the best times for a chance to see wildlife is early mornings and late afternoons. However, in Cades Cove (the most visited part of the Park) you are likely to see wildlife at anytime. Hundreds of acres are open fields and meadows, so there is little to block your view. However, the woods to your right are teeming with wildlife all along Cades Cove 11-mile loop road and the patient viewer will be rewarded as well.

The really lucky visitor can see and maybe get a chance for a picture of one of the approximately 800 black bears that are native to the area. A few words of caution regarding the bears however: In the spring, the females might have cubs with them and they are naturally very protective of their bear cubs. Do not try to approach too closely--you run the risk of being mauled. Two people have died from encounters with black bears in the Park. If you simply "must" have photo, use a longer lens on your camera (not the default 50mm lens that comes standard on most cameras). The best policy would be to simply take the "memory" of having seen a bear rather than risk injury.

See Hundreds of Miles of Unspoiled Beauty

The beauty of wildflowers and the sightings of wildlife natural to the Smoky Mountains are thrilling. Over 700 miles of trout streams crisscross the park with more than 800 miles of hiking trails including the Appalachian Trail, which traversed the entire length of the national park traveling along the highest mountain ridges and summits. Camping in the Smoky Mountains is a very special treat due to its historical fame; contact the rangers at the Sugarland Visitors Center or the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center for information about camping, fishing or backpacking in the national park.

Experience a Very Diverse Climate

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a moderate climate, typified by mild winters and hot, humid summers. When planning a trip to the Smokies, keep in mind that elevations in the park range from just over 875 feet to 6,643 feet and that the topography can drastically affect local weather. Temperatures can vary 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit from mountain base to top, and clear skies at lower elevations do not guarantee equally pleasant weather on the higher peaks.

Will It Snow in the Park?

Winter is a fickle season in the Smokies. Days can be sunny with high temperatures of 65° Fahrenheit or snowy with highs in the 20s. In the lower elevations, snows of 1" or more occur rather infrequently-usually only a few times each winter. Typically this snow melts within a few hours of falling. At higher elevations, the climate is significantly cooler and the mountain peaks receive more snow

Ranger-Guided Programs and Special Events

Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a wide variety of free, ranger-led, curriculum-based programs. These programs are correlated to North Carolina and Tennessee State learning standards, provide students and adults with an engaging learning experience, and enhance classroom learning by utilizing the park's cultural and natural resources as teaching tools.

 

Visitor CenterCOME EXPERIENCE OUR NEW VISITOR CENTER AT OCONALUFTEE

When it opened in late March 2011, a brand new visitor center at Oconaluftee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park began to reward visitors with an array of informational resources and state-of-the-art multimedia educational displays. The project,serves as a model for its earth-friendly design features. The center facilities are located on Newfound Gap near the Park's Cherokee, North Carolina, entrance. They surround a plaza and feature a 6,300-square-foot Oconaluftee Visitor Center, a separate kiosk that will offer 24-hour orientation information and a backcountry permit station, and a public restroom building, including a family-style restroom, and drink machines.