Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Park Telephone: (865) 436-1200
The Great Smoky Mountains, a majestic climax of the Appalachian Highlands, are a
sanctuary preserving the world's finest examples of temperate deciduous forest. The name
Smoky comes from the smoke like haze enveloping the mountains, which stretch in sweeping
troughs and mighty billows to the horizon. The park boasts unspoiled forests similar to
those early pioneers found. Restored log cabins and barns stand as reminders of those who
carved a living from this wilderness. Fertile soils and abundant rain have encouraged the
development of a world-renowned variety of flora, including more than 1,500 kinds of
flowering plants. In the coves, broadleaf trees predominate. Along the crest -- at more
than 6,000 feet elevations -- are conifer forests like those of central Canada.
Wildflowers and migrating birds abound in late April and early May. During June and July
rhododendrons bloom in spectacular profusion. Autumn's pageantry of color usually peaks in
mid-October. For many, this is the finest time of year, with cool, clear days ideal for
hiking. In winter, an unpredictable season, a peace pervades the park. Fog rolling over
the mountains may blanket the conifers in frost.
A scenic, high mountain road wind up through Newfound Gap, with a spur out to Clingman's
Dome and its observation tower. Along the road are superb views, and those from the tower
are truly panoramic. But roads offer only an introduction to the Smokies. Some 800 miles
of trails thread the whole of the Smokies' natural fabric -- and its waterfalls, coves,
balds and rushing streams. Each trail invites you into the intimacy and richness of these
highlands. The Smokies, a wild landscape rich with traces of its human past, calls people
back year after year.
The park is a delightful mix of forest wild lands and outdoor museum of pioneer life. Try
to experience both aspects, by hiking and by visiting its restored structures.
From mid-June through August evening programs and nature walks are offered at most
developed campgrounds. Spring and fall activities are limited. Check schedules at a
visitor center or ranger station.
Horse and foot trails wind along streams and through forests into the wild stillness of
the Smokies. For "do-it-yourself" naturalists there are short, self-guiding
nature trails. Pick up a leaflet at the start of each trail. A backcountry use permit,
required for all overnight hiking parties, can be obtained free at ranger stations or
visitor centers (except Cades Cove Visitor Center). Overnight use of some shelters and
backcountry campsites is rationed.
There are 10 developed campgrounds in the park; fees are charged at each. Reservations are
recommended at Cades Cove, Elkmont and Smokemont from May 15 to October 31: they can be
made by calling 1-800-365-CAMP. Campgrounds have tent sites, limited trailer space, water,
fireplaces, tables and restrooms. No shelters are provided. There are no showers or
hookups for trailers. The camping limit is 7 days between May 15 and October 31, 14 days
between November 1 and May 14. Sewage disposal stations are located at Smokemont, Cades
Cove, deep Creek and Cosby campground, and across the road from Sugarlands Visitor Center.
They are not available for use in the winter.
Many park streams provide fishing for rainbow and brown trout all year long. Tennessee or
North Carolina fishing licenses are required, but not trout stamps. Check park regulations
at a ranger station or visitor center before you fish. Possession of any brook trout is
Most neighboring towns have gasoline, food, lodging, showers and camping supplies. Many
private campgrounds operate outside the park. LeConte Lodge, accessible only by trail,
offers accommodations in the park from mid-March to mid-November. Allow a half day for
hiking up a mountain trail to reach this secluded retreat. Reservations are necessary;
call or write LeConte Lodge, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Saddle horses are available from about
April 1 to October 31 at Cades Cove, Smokemont, Cosby, near Greenbrier on U. S. 321 and
near park headquarters.
Bears are wild and potentially dangerous. If one approaches your car, stay inside with the
windows closed. Feeding bears and other wildlife encourages the animals to behave
unnaturally and violates regulations.
The park is managed as a natural and wild environment. Motorists must drive defensively.
Hikers must meet nature on its own terms. If you hike alone, let someone know your plans
and schedule and have proper clothing and gear. In winter, gear and clothing should be
suitable for survival in deep snow and extreme cold not characteristic of the mid-south.
To prevent accidents please stay on trails, stay off cliff faces, be careful around water
and watch and control children. Pets, permitted in the park if on a leash or under other
constant physical control, are prohibited on trails or cross-country hikes.
U. S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service