7 Interesting Facts About the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Are you planning on visiting the Smoky Mountains on your next vacation? We have put together a list of a few fun facts that you may have never heard about this beautiful national park. Here are X interesting facts about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

1. It’s the Most Visited National Park in the Country

Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses approximately 244,000 acres in Tennessee and 276,000 acres in North Carolina for a total of 520,000 acres or more than 800 square miles. With approximately 9-10 million visitors annually, this national park is the most visited park in the United States. In contrast, Grand Canyons National Park receives less than 5 million visitors annually.

2. The Smokies Are Home to Tons of Wildlife

bearDesignated as an International Biosphere Reserve, the Smokies are home to 4,000 plant species, 140 tree species and an estimated 1,500 black bears. Other animals that inhabit the national park include the Eastern cottontail rabbit, red wolf, groundhog, red fox, coyote, bobcat, river otter, white-tailed deer and wild boar. The Great Smoky Mountains are known as the “Salamander Capital of the World” since approximately 30 species of salamander can be found here. You’ll also find approximately 1,500 species of wildflowers – more than any other national park in the United States. Elk were released in Cataloochee Valley in 2001 as part of an experimental program to reintroduce them to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

3. There are Hundreds of Hiking Trails

In addition to the Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park features more than 850 miles of hiking trails. Some of the most popular hiking trails include Abrams Falls Trail, Alum Cave Trail, Andrews Bald Trail, Boulevard Trail, Chasteen Creek Falls Trail, Chimney Tops Trail, Grotto Falls Trail, Hen Wallow Falls Trail, Indian Creek Falls Trail, Laurel Falls Trail, Ramsey Cascades Trail and Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail.

4. Clingmans Dome in the Highest Point in the Park

clingmans At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, followed by Mount Guyot (6,621 feet) and Mount LeConte (6,593 feet). Clingmans Dome is also the third highest mountain East of the Mississippi behind Mount Craig (6,647 feet) and Mount Mitchell (6,684 feet). A short but steep, 0.5-mile hike along a paved walkway takes visitors up to Clingmans Dome’s 54-foot-tall observation tower for spectacular views of the mountains. The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its 2,178-mile journey from Georgia to Maine. Clingmans Dome was named in honor of North Carolina Senator Thomas Lanier Clingman, who helped measure it in 1858. A total of 16 mountains within Great Smoky Mountains National Park reach elevations higher than 6,000 feet.

5. You Can Stay on Mount LeConte

It takes a 5.5-mile hike to reach the rustic LeConte Lodge on Mount LeConte. If you’d like to stay at this unique lodge, make your reservations now, as they can be booked up to a year in advance. The LeConte Lodge, which was built in 1926, has no electricity, telephones or running water. Other than LeConte Lodge, there are no rental cabins, motels or hotels within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Five hiking trails lead to Mount LeConte, including Boulevard Trail, Alum Cave Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Trillium Gap Trail and Bull Head Trail.

6. Many Historical Figures Have Contributed to the National Park

CCCJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. contributed $5 million for the creation of national park, the United States government added $2 million and private citizens from both Tennessee and North Carolina pitched in to assemble land for the park, piece by piece. Throughout the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration and other federal organizations created trails and fire watchtowers, and made other infrastructure improvements to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

7. The Smokies are Filled with Beautiful Waterfalls

Waterfalls that can be viewed all throughout the park, including Abrams Falls, Grotto Falls, Hen Wallow Falls, Indian Creek/Toms Branch Falls, Juney Whank Falls, Laurel Falls, Mingo Falls, Mouse Creek Falls, Rainbow Falls and Ramsey Cascades, among others. One of the most popular hikes in Great Smoky Mountains leads to 80-foot Laurel Falls. At 100 feet in height, Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park.

Now that you know all about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can start planning your next trip! Learn more about the Smokies area and all there is to do near the park! We look forward to seeing you!