Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the United States Park System.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created in 1934 to protect the forest and large tracts of tress from over logging. It is the most visited national Great Smoky Mountains Park in the United States with over 9 million people annually.The mountains that form the Great Smoky Mountain National Park straddles the borders of the two states North Carolina and Tennessee. The Cherokee used the word Shacorage meaning “blue, like smoke” to describe the mountain region. It is approximately 521,895 acres in size and has up to 100,000 different types of plants and animals.
Due to the amount of rainfall and the summertime high humidity the area makes an excellent growing environment for a wide range of plant and animals to grow and thrive.
Mountain elevations in the park range from just over 875 feet to 6,643 feet. The tallest elevation point is at the popular tourist site of Clingmans Dome. The first inhabitants of the mountains were the Cherokee Indians. The area was the Cherokee Indians hunting grounds. Later in the 18th century the Scotch-Irish, German and English settled in the area.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Activities
Popular activities for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park include hiking, camping, fishing, biking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and auto touring. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is fully accessible to visitors with disabilities. Starting in the early spring flowering plants and deciduous trees start to bloom in late March and continue through early November when winter arrives.
Popular Sites in the Great Smoky Mountains
The most popular sites in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are: Clingmans Dome, Mount LeConte, Chimney Tops and the sheer rock pinnacles, the 100-foot waterfall at Ramsey Cascades, Cataloochee Valley, Cades Cove, and Oconaluftee.
There are 2 large visitor centers Sugarlands and Oconaluftee and a smaller visitors center in Cades Cove. Sugarlands is located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s main north entrance south of Gatlinburg, Tennessee on US Highway 441. Oconaluftee is near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s south entrance which is north of Cherokee, North Carolina on US Highway 441. A smaller visitors center is located in Cades Cove on the 11 mile loop road in Cades Cove.
Great Smoky Mountains Hiking and Horse Trails
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 800 miles of horse and hiking trails with about 150 different marked hiking trails. Developed and primitive amp sites are located and available through out various locations in the park.