The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is an icon of the national park system. Over 10,000 different species of flora and fauna have been identified within the Park's boundaries. The large number of species in the park is due to the diverse habitats, ranging from spruce-fir forests to temperate deciduous forests. The diversity of the Park has also lead to it being designated as an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.
Recreation opportunities are numerous in the Great Smoky Mountains. Visitors can hike on over 800 miles of trail, explore the many cultural heritage sites, take self-guided auto tours, or view the abundant wildlife of the park. Because of the popularity of the Park and the proximity to major urban areas, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited National Park with over 9 million visitors every year.
Did You Know?
Jordan's red cheeked salamander is a species that only occurs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Pound for pound, salamanders in the Smokies are the most voracious predators in the park--consuming more mass or weight of prey than any other animal species- including bears! The Smokies has 31 species of salamanders, and is often called the "Salamander capitol of the world." One specific concern related to salamander species is what might happen as we begin to lose our hemlock trees to the invasive hemlock wooley adelgid. Hemlocks provide shade for many of the streams in the park, and as we begin to lose the trees, scientists are concerned about the water temps going up as the shade is lost. This could potentially effect a wide variety of stream life--only a few degrees of temperature change might make waters uninhabitable for many native species.
According to air-quality experts, each year the amount of acid deposition of sulfur oxides in the Great Smokies is comparable to 200 railroad tank cars spilling sulfuric acid in the park. As you can imagine, this excess acid has a horribly damaging effect on the park's ecosystem.
Air pollution is among the most serious threats to national parks. The National Park Service has established the NPS air quality webcam network to show “live” digital images of more than a dozen parks. Click here to see current air conditions at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
State:North Carolina, Tennessee
NPCA REGION:Southeast Regional Office
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