Straddling the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Lower 48’s most visited national park. It is home to remarkable landscapes, colors and glimpses of wildlife that will leave you fumbling for words, and tales of a displaced and hardworking people. Covering more than 500 thousand acres of the southeastern United States by way of hills, cliffs, hideaway lakes and spectacular mountaintop, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the waterhole of bear and elk, the birthplace of bluegrass, the land of the wildflower, and the epitome of wilderness in its truest form.
A brief history
Referred to as “The Mountains with Blue Ridges” by the native tribes who first called Appalachia home, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for the mysterious walls of mist that blanket the treetops each morning.
This massive forest region, now called “The Smokies,” has endured the Ice Age and more than a century of impeding deforestation. Thanks to great efforts on the part of small organizations in the area, the many diverse ecosystems that developed have been flawlessly preserved and dutifully protected since the national park’s designation as one of the United State’s landmarks in 1983.
Apart from the plant and animal ecosystems that continue to thrive, a long history of human endeavor has been written in this part of the country, from which came a number of the United States’ important cultural movements, namely the development of new forms of music such as bluegrass (derived from western European immigrants) and the emergence of moonshining during the prohibition era.
Predating a logging operation that wiped out more than 80 percent of the park’s forested area and following its founding as a national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park was also once home to hundreds of unique native tribes.
Traverse Great Smoky Mountains National Park by sea or by land
Today, a highway runs right through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Newfound Gap Road spans some of the national park’s most scenic stretches, offering opportunities for unforgettable photos and camping destinations.
With nearly 900 miles of trail and river for visitors to explore, hikers can choose to take a peaceful walk to escape the world or push their limits by tackling a tough climb or rapids descent. Have a look around the national park’s website and start planning your journey into one-of-a-kind Appalachia!