April 13, 2020
Do you love visiting the Great Smoky Mountains? If you do, you may want to learn more about the area. We want to share some things with you that you may not know about the Smokies. Check out these top 8 things you didn’t know about the Great Smoky Mountains:
The Smokies are known as the home to black bears. There are about 1,500 black bears living in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That’s about 2 bears every square mile. You’re likely to see black bears if you are out on hiking trails or even driving along the road. These creatures are kind of like the unofficial mascot of the Smoky Mountains!
The Smokies are the unofficial salamander capital of the world. There are more salamander species in this area than anywhere else in the world. The Smokies have more than 30 species of salamanders, and about 26 of them are lungless. These salamanders exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide through their skin. If you play in a creek or find a big pile of rocks, you are likely to find salamanders in these areas. They are also probably near caves and waterfalls, as well as any other areas that are damp and cool.
You might have known that the tallest point along the Appalachian Trail is Clingmans Dome. It is also the highest elevation in the entire national park. Clingmans Dome stands at 6,643 feet. It is one of the first places that gets snow and where foliage changes colors in the fall. You can climb to Clingmans Dome on a steep 0.5-mile trail that is paved. You’ll be able to see over 100 miles away on clear days from the top of the observation tower. You don’t want to miss out on the beautiful views.
Since we have told you where the highest elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains is, we want to share with you where the lowest elevation is. Abrams Creek runs through Cades Cove and has a popular waterfall, Abrams Falls, along it. Abrams Creek is at 840 feet. To hike to the waterfall or alongside the creek, take Abrams Creek Trail. The trail is 5 miles roundtrip and considered moderate. You’ll make your way through old forest growth and even see wildflowers in the spring. It’s a great family hike!
The most visited portion of the national park is Cades Cove. Over 2 million people visit Cades Cove every year. You drive along the 11-mile paved route where you go through a valley surrounded by mountains. There are hundreds of wildflowers in the spring, and you might even see wildlife throughout your visit. You can stop and get out at multiple sites where you can explore homesteads, churches, and an operational grist mill. Don’t miss out on this popular destination.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the only national parks that was established using private funds. Most of the other national parks were funded with national funds. To establish this national park, many residents donated their land, people donated money, and $5 million was donated by John D. Rockefeller.
Most of the other national parks in the United States charge entrance fees if people want to visit. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the only national parks that doesn’t charge an entrance fee. Why is that? When the government was first establishing the national park, they wanted a road that connected North Carolina to Tennessee through the park. These two states already came together and built Newfound Gap. North Carolina ceded their portion of the road immediately, but Tennessee came up with a clause stating the government couldn’t impose a toll on the road for visitors. This later translated into no entrance fee for the park.
Do you know why the Smoky Mountains have so much smokiness? It’s actually from the amount of vegetation in the area! Plants give off volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. In high concentrations, the VOCs create a fogginess that is blue in color. Because of the amount of plants in the Smokies, that’s why they are so smoky!
Now you know so much more about the Great Smoky Mountains! Ready to come visit the Smokies? Look at our cabins in the Smoky Mountains and book one for your next trip today!