41st Annual Festival of Christmas Past Program in the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces the 41st annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration scheduled on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public. The festival will include old-time mountain music,...

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Appalachian Unsolved: Trenny Gibson, Lost in the Smokies

High school girls don’t just vanish in a national park, never to be found again. Unless you’re Trenny Gibson of Knoxville, TN. Hiking in the Smokies one minute. Nowhere to be found the next. That’s all anyone knows about the last moments of 16-year-old Trenny Gibson. Where she ended up – fatally injured in a fall, taken by a kidnapper, whisked...

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Smokies Park invites public to #OptOutside after Thanksgiving Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites visitors to join a park ranger for a guided hike on Friday, November 24, 2017 or a service opportunity on Saturday, November 25. Hikes will be offered near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Elkmont Campground, providing an outstanding opportunity for people of all ages to #OptOutside and enjoy the park. Rangers and park...

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Old Sugarlands Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the more enjoyable trails I have hiked recently in the Smokies, Old Sugarlands follows West Prong of Little Pigeon River for a mile and a half, then turns to the east and ascends the western flank of the LeConte Ridge another 2.4 miles to a pastoral setting known as Cherokee Orchard. This trail receives surprisingly little use despite being surrounded by a hub of...

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Join Park Rangers for Smokies Service Days

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has extended the “Smokies Service Days” program into December 2017 with the addition of three new opportunities. These single-day volunteer projects help complete much needed work across the park and are ideal for people interested in learning more about the park through hands-on service. Launched in July 2017, this program engages...

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Stevens Creek land protected near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently purchased 147 acres at Stevens Creek, a quiet cove on the eastern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The acquisition permanently protects important habitat and water resources near the remote Cataloochee Valley area of the park. “Wrapped on three sides by publicly owned land, this pocket of prime forest...

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In Search of Fall Color in the Smokies – A Photo Essay

There is no denying 2017 has been a disappointing year for fall foliage in the Smokies — so far. That’s why I titled this essay In Search of… you really have to look hard to find much beyond a few patches of yellow. The oranges and reds have been nonexistent. I started the day before dawn from Cades Cove driving toward Gatlinburg on Little River Road,...

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Rich Mountain Loop at Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This was the first trail I hiked in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was back in 2008 or so, well before I started this website. So I thought it must be time, nearly 10 years later, to do it again and tell you about it. Rich Mountain Loop is a combination of three trails: Rich Mountain Loop Trail, Indian Grave Gap Trail, and Crooked Arm Ridge Trail. Most people...

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How to not die in the Smokies

When you think about the Great Smoky Mountains, you might conjure grand vistas, verdant forests or majestic elk. Your thoughts might not immediately jump to death and destruction. But that is exactly what adventure travel writer David Brill of Morgan County, Tenn., dives into with his new book, Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Reopen Chimney Tops Trail October 6

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will open the Chimney Tops Trail to a newly developed observation point starting Friday, October 6, 2017. The entire trail has been closed to the public since the Chimney Tops 2 Fire event occurred in late November 2016. “We are excited to complete the work on the Chimney Tops Trail in time for the fall color season in Great...

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Cabin restoration completed at Smokies historic Elkmont

  It still takes imagination to envision sitting among the suit-and-dress crowd listening to the orchestra on a Saturday night at the Appalachia Club House in the Elkmont Historic District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thanks to a National Park Service project, however, at least a part of what it was like during those 1910 glory days is being...

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Park Hosts Volunteer Trail Opportunity for National Public Lands Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a volunteer trail maintenance workday on Saturday, September 30, 2017 in celebration of the 24th annual National Public Lands Day. Participants are invited to participate on a trail rehabilitation project along the Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Volunteers will perform trail maintenance including...

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Report: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Staff Not Negligent In Battling Deadly Chimney Tops 2 Fire

The deadly fire fed by kindling-dry forests and whipped out of control by hurricane-force winds at Great Smoky Mountains National Park “overwhelmed” the park staff’s ability to fight it, according to an independent review of the blaze that killed 14 in neighboring communities in November, 2016. Extreme drought conditions and heavy ground fuels –...

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Volunteers are Vital Component to Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation Project

Earlier this summer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials recruited for volunteers to assist the Trails Forever trail crew with a rehabilitation project on the Rainbow Falls Trail. Citizens from across the region responded and their volunteer effort has significantly helped in moving the project forward these past few months. In order to maintain the momentum,...

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Clingmans Dome Tower Rehabilitation Project Begins

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower will be closed beginning Wednesday, August 23 through the remainder of the 2017 season to complete rehabilitation work thanks to funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $250,000 grant was awarded last summer to Friends of the Smokies on behalf of...

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Friends of the Smokies Turns 25 with $2.5 Million Emergency Radio Upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary next year, Friends of the Smokies is delighted to announce a milestone capital campaign to fund a critical radio system upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). The total cost of the radio system upgrade is $2.5 million. “Our target for this campaign is to raise $1.25 million by this time next year,...

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New Science Education Program Brings Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Classrooms

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont have been selected to participate in a new science education program, Citizen Science 2.0 in National Parks. Made possible thanks to a $1 million Veverka Family Foundation donation to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, this new program...

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Join Park Rangers for Smokies Service Days

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are excited to announce a new opportunity for the public to participate in service projects across the park. Park staff have coordinated ten Smokies Service Days on Saturdays beginning July 22, 2017 through October 28. Individuals and groups are invited to sign up for any of the scheduled service projects that interest them...

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Smokies Park Recruits for July 6th Litter Pick-Up at Deep Creek and Smokemont

Great Smoky Mountains National Park seeks volunteers to help care for campgrounds and picnic areas after the July 4th, 2017 Holiday. The maintenance staff does a fantastic job providing clean and safe spaces for visitors to enjoy our amazing National Park; but increased visitation on holiday weekends can be overwhelming. As the Trails and Facilities Volunteer...

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An American Legend – Horace Kephart – His Life and Legacy

Horace Sowers Kephart (September 8, 1862 – April 2, 1931) was an American travel writer and librarian, best known as the author of Our Southern Highlanders about his life in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina and the classic outdoors guide Camping and Woodcraft. Kephart’s vision helped to establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park. His life as...

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The Shifting Window of Growing Seasons

When winter comes to an end, it’s no mystery that warming temperatures and spring rains bring new life. Wildlife emerges, flowers bloom, and brilliant green leaves begin to fill the ground and the forest canopy—all part of their seasonal cycle known as phenology. Observers know those green leaves don’t appear at the same time every spring, nor do they begin to fade away...

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Volunteers Needed for Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation at Smokies Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is currently recruiting for volunteers to assist the Trails Forever trail crew for a rehabilitation project on the Rainbow Falls Trail. Volunteers are needed every Wednesday from approximately 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Volunteers must register at least one week in advance by contacting Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator, Adam...

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Baxter Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Baxter Creek Trail has a well-earned reputation as one of the hardest hikes in all of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Starting at the Big Creek picnic area near Waterville, NC it climbs more than 4,000 feet over 6.2 miles, roughly 700 feet/mile. That will get your attention. Look for stunning forest scenes, waterways that keep the forest green, seasonal wildflowers,...

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Smokies National Park to Host “Women’s Work” Event

On Saturday, June 17, 2017, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Women’s Work Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum. This event honors the vast contributions made by the women of Southern Appalachia showcasing traditional work led by women on mountain farms in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The event is from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm....

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Local Students Help with Elkmont Historic District Project at Smokies National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers received help from local high school students in Elkmont to plant native trees. Recently, 19 students from Blount, Sevier, Cocke, and Knox Counties planted more than 400 trees in areas where cabins were removed along Jakes Creek in the Elkmont Historic District. By planting the native trees and shrubs, students are helping to...

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Smokies Park Reminds Visitors to be Bear Aware

As the busy summer season approaches, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials want to remind visitors about precautions they can take while enjoying the park to keep themselves and bears safe. Bears are particularly active this time of year in search for spring foods. Visitors should be prepared in how to safely observe bears without disturbing them during this...

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Abrams Falls Trail at Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the most popular hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Abrams Falls at the west end of Cades Cove has the full Smokies package all in one. Here you can find rich, bountiful forest with a floor of colorful spring wildflowers, a rushing creek that provides refreshing nourishment for all the plants and wildlife, good exercise as you climb up and over...

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Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation Begins May 8, 2017

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that a 2-year trail rehabilitation project will begin next week on the popular Rainbow Falls Trail. The trail will be closed May 8, 2017 through November 16, 2017 on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. Due to the construction process on the narrow trail, a full closure is...

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Smokies Park Recruits Volunteers for Cataloochee Valley

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeking volunteers to assist rangers with managing traffic and establishing safe wildlife viewing areas within the Cataloochee Valley region. Volunteers will receive information and training in wildlife behavior, safe viewing practices, and cultural history. Cataloochee is a remote mountain valley on the eastern edge of the park...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the 2017 dates for firefly viewing in Elkmont. Shuttle service to the viewing area will be provided on Tuesday, May 30 through Tuesday, June 6. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must have a parking pass distributed through the lottery system at www.recreation.gov. Every year in...

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Groundbreaking for final phase of ‘missing link’ of Foothills Parkway

It’s the beginning of the end for the “missing link” of the Foothills Parkway. While crews still are completing the bridges along the 1.65-mile “missing link,” the paving of the entire 16-mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley is scheduled to get underway this spring, with a groundbreaking ceremony featuring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander,...

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Tennessee Smokies on My Mind – A Photo Essay

Every April I like to make a two-day trip to the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I usually stay overnight at the Cades Cove Campground. It is a glorious time in the Smokies. The spring ephemeral wildflowers are busting out all over. The weather is warming and the days are getting longer. The rivers, creeks and streams are usually full of cool,...

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