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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

All Smoky Mountain Vacations
214 Sharon Dr.
Seymour, TN  37865

Encompassing 520,976 acres, with 20 summits over 6,000 feet in elevation, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the largest area of undeveloped land in the southeast. Straddling the Tennessee and North Carolina borders, the Smokies are part of the Blue Ridge Province and the southern Appalachian Mountains.


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Created more than 200-300 million years ago when drifting continents collided, the Smoky Mountains are among the oldest mountains in the world.

As continents collided, extreme pressures and moving water deformed the once horizontal sedimentary rocks into folded structures. This collection of folded and faulted rocks extends over 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia, forming the Appalachian Mountains. Although the Smokies were never glaciated during the ice ages, the colder conditions supported the spruce-fir forests and plants more common in the northern areas.

Receiving more than 90 inches of precipitation annually, the abundant rain and moisture contributes to the smoky haze or "place of blue smoke" that the Cherokee Indians named the mountains and supports magnificent streams, rivers, waterfalls, majestic peaks and the largest and most diverse collection of plants and animals, including black bears, wild hogs and elk in North America.

Fog settling into the Smokies
Photo Courtesy of Rich Stevenson

Dominated by natural and self-generating processes, where rivers are not dammed and predators are not killed, the Smokies are one of the largest tracts of wildlands in the eastern United States, supporting 1,500 flowering plants, 60 different mammals, 80 species of amphibians and reptiles, 70 fish species, 22 species of salamanders, 200 species of birds, at least 4,000 species of non-flowering plants, mollusks, millipedes, and mushrooms.

The Smoky Mountains are home to the largest tract of virgin forest in the eastern United States, although three-quarters of the park was once logged. Rivaling the huge conifers of the Pacific Northwest, the cove hardwood forests in the Smokies, along with the rest of the forests are slowly recovering its natural beauty. Some 100 species of native trees find homes in the Smokies, more than in any other North American National Park. Almost 95% of the park is forested, and about 25% of that area is one of the largest deciduous, temperate, old-growth forest remaining in North America. However, global warming, acid rainfall, exotic species of plants, animals and insects threaten the biodiversity of the area.

In 1926, after a movement to develop a national park in the Appalachians, the Smoky Mountains were chosen and the land was dedicated in 1940 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. A $5 million investment from industrialist John D. Rockefeller, along with the support of concerned citizens throughout the region, helped attain the final goal of the park's establishment, protecting nearly 500,000 acres of land from development. Due to the abundance of the biology and natural resources, the park has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and a World Heritage Site in 1983.

While maintaining the natural heritage and history of the mountains, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park also preserves and protects the cultural landscapes including cabins, mills, churches, and remnants of early human occupation. Cades Cove houses most of the structures and is also the most visited part of the park.

Millions of visitors come each year to hike the ancient forests, fish in the rivers, horseback ride through the Smokies, drive along the crests of its mile high peaks, camp in developed or backcountry campsites and admire the stunning views. There are ten million visitors to the park annually, the highest visitation of any national park.

For visitor information, contact the National Park Service by calling 865-436-1200 or send snail mail to GSMNP, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN  37738. 

All Smoky Mountain Vacations
214 Sharon Dr.
Seymour, TN 37865

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