National Park Intro

Few places in the world can rival the splendid beauty and serine settings of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Named this due to the smoky haze that can often be found enveloping the hilltops and valleys, the Smoky Mountains are as unique as a falling snowflake. As the most popular National Park in the country, this 520,000 acre mountain wilderness attracts some 10 million visitors each year, twice that of any other park. With a unique and awe inspiring diversity of plant and animal life, a rich history and a multitude of recreational options, the Park offers something for everyone.

Guests to the Park are advised to make a short stop at the Sugarlands Visitors Center, located just outside Gatlinburg on Highway 441. The center is a useful place for information and advice to make your trip even more enjoyable. The center offers a state of the art theater, nature exhibits, a bookstore, and permits for hiking, camping and fishing. There are also rangers available to answer any of your questions and give advise about the park.

The Smoky Mountain National Park is a wild-lands sanctuary and biosphere reserve that preserves one of the world’s most amazing deciduous forests. The Park features more than 4,000 species of plants, 1,600 kinds of flowering plants, dozens of native fish, more than 230 species of birds and 65 varying species of mammals. The Park is home to more than 130 species of trees, exceeding that of northern Europe. This remarkable biological diversity and abundance is also complimented by approximately 150 trails that cover over 900 miles of pristine nature. In this section you can find a list of our favorite trails, along with the distance, difficulty and a short description of why these trails stand out. The Park also offers such activities as fishing, biking, camping, swimming, and rafting, just to name a few.

If you would rather sit inside an air-conditioned vehicle while touring the Smokies, navigating the loop at Cades Cove is a must. Here you might see the two most prolific mammals in the park, the white tail deer and black bear. You can find out more about Cades Cove in the following pages. If the loop is not enough for you, then you can traverse the Park on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail or Newfound Gap Road. Newfound Gap Road is the only road that goes directly through the National Park. Once you reach Newfound Gap, you will be met with a spectacular view and a memorial marking President Roosevelt’s dedication of the Park in 1940. The Motor Nature Trail offers an amazing display of wilderness, just a short drive from downtown Gatlinburg. These two thoroughfares will take visitors to most of the Parks trails and notable sights.

Throughout the site you will find useful information on popular hiking trails, weather conditions, horseback riding and camping in the Great Smoky Mountains. Please remember that the purpose of the Park is to preserve this natural wonder and its cultural heritage for those who visit it now and for generations to come. Be courteous not only to those around you, but also to the surrounding area and its wildlife as well. Enjoy the time that you have here and be careful in your upcoming adventures.

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Park It Forward
Parking Passes

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is rolling out parking passes to the park for the first time.