The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, with more than ten million visitors a year.
There are several good reasons for this popularity. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is designated as an International Biosphere Reserve and offers as diverse a variety of flora and fauna as any other place on Earth.
In addition, approximately one third of the park is old growth forest. A visit to these old growth regions is akin to going back to the time when William Bartram was the first European visitor in the Southern Appalachians.
The natural wonders of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park are interspersed with the relics of human habitation. Many historic structures have been preserved and are maintained by the Park Service and a life-sized exhibit of the way life used to be for the hardy souls that lived amongst these mountains.
Several areas of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park are accessible by automobile. Cades Cove is one of the most popular due to large open expanses that are perfect for wildlife viewing and its collection of fine historic structures. Cataloochee also boasts a plethora of wildlife including elk and several examples of historic buildings.
But many other regions can only be reached via a hike along some of the nine hundred miles of maintained trails in the park. The most popular hikes are to the Chimney Tops and the Alum Cave Bluff. Andrews Bald is another fine destination, especially in June when the Azaleas are blooming.
Additional recreational opportunities include camping, fishing, and cycling. There are several improved campgrounds throughout the park and many backcountry primitive sites. All require a permit and advanced reservations are almost always needed to secure a spot. Fishing requires appropriate licensing by the controlling state. Cycling is allowed on roads designated for automobiles only but one should exercise extreme caution as the highways are steep and rife with traffic.
Mountain Bikes are only permitted on the Lower Deep Creek Trail, the Oconaluftee River Trail, and the Gatlinburg trail.
There is something for everyone at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Why not plan a trip soon?