Great Smoky Mountains National Park Information
As you drive through the National Park you will see signs saying “Quiet Walkway.” If you have the time and inclination pull off and enjoy a stroll along a mountain stream or through the scenic woodlands. You will be glad you did. If you are more adventurous (and fit) you will want to stop by the Sugarlands Visitor Center at the entrance of the National Park to get information and maps for more challenging trails. As always, be sure to follow basic safety guidelines and make sure somebody knows where you are going to be.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, from our famous Black Bear to the newly introduced Elk herd. Keep in mind that any animals you encounter are wild, and no matter how cute they may seem you never want to feed or try to touch them. If you see a bear cub, know with full certainty that Mamma bear is nearby and is anxiously watching your every move.
As with the wildlife, there is a great diversity of plants, trees, and flowers in the National Park. Heed the hiker’s credo…take nothing but picutres, leave nothing but footprints. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a delicately balanced eco-system. Picking flowers or plants means that some critter might go hungry later on.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park does not charge visitors to enjoy the great beauty that so blesses this area. The trails, roads, rangers, and programs are all supported by tax dollars and donations. If you wish to make a donation to help support the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and it’s many great projects, you may send it to:
Friends of GSMNP
PO Box 1660
Kodak, TN 37764
Or go to www.friendsofthesmokies.org
Black bear cubs are born. Winter birds present include Ruffed Grouse, Belted Kingfisher, Cedar Waxwing, Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pine Siskin, Black-capped Chickadee, Winter Wren American Goldfinch, Barred Owl and Wild Turkey
Red Maple trees bloom. Traiing Arbutus may bloom along trail edges. Spicebush blooms. Mourning Doves are courting.
Wildflowers that may bloom this month include Spring Beauty, Sharp-lobed Hepatica, Bloodroot & several species of Violets. Arriving migratory birds includee Brown Thrasher, Solitary Vireo, Yello-throated Warbler, Black and White Warbler, and Louisiana Watherthrush. Redbud and Serviceberry trees bloom along Little River Rd.
Flowering Dogwood trees reach their peak of bloom around mid-month. April 23-29: Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. Dozens of woodland wildflower species are in bloom, including Foamflower, Columbine, Fire Pink, dutchman’s Britches, Trout Lily, White Trillium, Yellow Trillium, Crested Dwarf Iris, White fringed Phacelia, and Wild Geranium. Many Warblers and other migrotory birds arrive to spend the summer and breed such as Ruby-throated hummingbird, Veery, Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated Viero, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada Warbler and Scarlet Tanager.
Mountain Laruel is in bloom. Flame Azalea is in bloom in the lower elevations. Silverbell trees and Tulip trees are in bloom, as well as Umbrella and Fraser Magnolia. Woodland wildflowers in bloom include Creeping Phlox, Wake Robe, Shoy Orchis, Yellow Lady’s Slipper, Galax, and Woodland Bluet.
June 16: Women’s Work at Oconaluftee, Catawba Rhododendron reaches its peak of bloom. Rosebay Rhododendron reaches its peak at the lower elevations
Wildflowers in bloom include Butterfly Weed, Yellow-fringed Orchid, Cardinal Flower, Purple-Fringed Orchid and Fly Poison. Rosebay Rhododendron reaches its peak of bloom at the middle and higher elevations. Sourwood trees bloom.
Wildflowers in bloom include Jo-Pye Weed, Turk’s Cap Lily, Pink Turtlehead, Heart-leaved Aster, Nodding Lady’s Tresses, Canada Goldenrod, Bee Balm and Touch-me-not. Fruits are ripe on Pin Cherry Trees.
Flocks of migrating Broad-Winged Hawks may be seen from Clingman’s dome and Look Rock towers. Wildflowers in bloom include Mountain Gentian, New York Ironweed and Wide-leaved Sunflower. September 15: Muntain Life Festival at OLconaluftee. Trees showing early autumn color include Sourwood, Pin Cherry, Flowering Dogwood and Yellow birch.
During the first half of the month Fall colors will reach peak at the higher elevations. Colors will reach peak at the lower elevations during the seconed half of the mongh. Bull elk are bugling.
Oak trees continue to show good color early in the month. Watch for the possible arrival of Evening Grosbeaks. Decidous leaves of Buffalo Nut remain bright green. Fall Asters continue to bloom.
December 8: Festival of Christmas Past at Sugarlands Visitor Center. Mamals in farious states of deep winter sleep include Black Bear, Woodchuck, Chipmunk and Jumping Mouse. Witch-hazel, a small tree, blooms with bright yellow flowers.