Great Smoky Mountains National Park: A Vacation Paradise Ready
to be Explored
all the many possible vacation destinations available to North
American travelers, there are some destinations that stand above
the crowd. Often these holiday locations are amongst the most
popular on the continent because they offer not only a unique
and high quality vacation experience, but also because they
offer a variety of recreational activities for vacationers to
enjoy. This multiplicity of recreational appeal not only attracts
visitors, but also keeps people returning to explore the area
on multiple occasions in future years.
The Smoky Mountains region of East Tennessee and North Carolina
is definitely one of these types of holiday locales. Not only
does the area feature the world-class recreational resort appeal
of Tennessee towns like Pigeon
Forge, Sevierville, and Gatlinburg, but it is also home
to the spectacular Great Smoky Mountains National Park- one
of the elite natural wonders found anywhere on the continent
of North America. And this combination of holiday recreation
keeps people returning to the Smoky
Mountains year after year after year.
The Smoky Mountains are a subsection of the Appalachian chain of mountains that run from north to south along the eastern corridor of the United States. Not only are the Appalachians ancient in themselves, but the Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains hills that are amongst the oldest located within the Appalachian chain. It is the ancient nature of these mountains that accounts for the unique rolling shape of the Smoky Mountain terrain. Over time natural weathering processes have eroded what once were jagged peaks akin to the much newer Rocky Mountains of the western United States and Canada.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has grown to become one of the most visited national parks in the nation. And that's saying a lot when you consider the great depth and richness of the beauty on display at various national and state park sites located in the United States alone. The reasons behind the popularity of the GSMNP are many. The first and greatest attraction of the Smoky Mountains and of the park itself is the tremendous, scenic vistas that are offered up by these Appalachian hills.
and every year, Smoky Mountain visitors purchase postcards to
send home to friends and relatives- hoping to share the stunning
natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But,
as with other world-class national park destinations like Yellowstone
and the Grand Canyon the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
really needs to be experiences up close and personal to be fully
The sheer size and spectrum of color offered by these Tennessee hills is a wonder that only an eye-witness can fully experience. Whether it is the fresh, spring greens that light up the horizon when the Park burst forth with new life every March and April, or it be the spectacular harvest colors of red, gold, and brown that seem to set the skyline on fire in the Autumn, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides vistas that are truly unparalleled.
While the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonder to behold, it is certainly much more than "just a pretty picture". The Park is also home to a rich and diverse variety of plant, tree, and animal life. In fact, it is partly the diverse community of trees found in the Smoky Mountains that accounts for the tremendous diversity of color that is so popular to behold. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is actually home to a greater variety of tree species than any other region- not just in North America, but in the entire world. It is no surprise therefore that in addition to being a national treasure to Americans that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has also been officially recognized as an International Biosphere Preserve.
To fully appreciate the complex ecosystem offered by the Smoky Mountains one must explore the national park itself. And that's easy to do considering there are literally hundreds and hundreds of hiking trails and walking paths found within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No matter what your hiking ability and preference, you'll feel at home in the park. The GSMNP offers a variety of trail difficulties. And so everything from weekend strollers to experienced mountain climbing enthusiasts will find something to suit their requirements here.
of the most popular hikes in the Smokies is the trail that takes
you up to Abram's Falls. This trail and the waterfall that it
leads to are named after Chief Abram of the Cherokee Indian
tribe. The Cherokee were the first residents of this area of
East Tennessee and North Carolina. Even more popular than Abram's
Falls is the hike up to Clingman's Dome- which is actually the
second highest summit in all of the Eastern United States. From
the summit of Clingman's Dome, Tennessee and North Carolina
visitors can actually see not only these two states, but the
territory of several other states as well. The panoramic views
provided from the summit of Clingman's Dome are truly breathtaking.
On a clear day one can see 100 miles into the distance.
The next best thing to experiencing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on foot is to drive through the park territory. The Newfound Gap road is the most popular route for drivers to explore in the area. This winding drive begins in East Tennessee and ends up in North Carolina and offers up magnificent views of the surrounding Smoky Mountain splendor. As you meander back and forth while constantly climbing in altitude, the route provides ever-increasingly stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is actually along the Newfound Gap route where Franklin Roosevelt, on Labor Day in 1940, officially designated the Smoky Mountains as a national park. Historic photographs and information on this christening are found at various points along the route.
While the exciting resort cities of Pigeon Forge, Sevierville,
and Gatlinburg offer their own brand of Smoky Mountain experiences
for Tennessee visitors to enjoy, it is no surprise that the
foremost attraction in this part of East Tennessee is the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, it's the popularity
of the park itself that has led to the rapid expansion of the
resort facilities in nearby Gatlinburg,
Sevierville, and Pigeon Forge. The Great Smoky Mountains National
Park is in a league of elite company. In fact, it can legitimately
fall into the category of "wonders of the world". Not only have
millions and millions of people enjoyed the Smoky Mountains
region thus far, but strong preservation strategies guarantee
that the splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
will be available for Tennessee visitors far into the future.