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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North Carolina regulators approve solar microgrid in Smokies

Duke Energy got the official go-ahead for a renewable energy project that’s drawing praise from some of its most frequent critics. The “microgrid” system, atop Mount Sterling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, represents Duke’s latest, small foray into linking solar energy to battery storage – a combination that experts say is key for the expansion of renewable...

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Smokies vacation haven still thriving in wake of wildfires

It’s a spectacular drive northward along Highway 441 from the small town of Cherokee on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Gatlinburg on the Tennessee side. In the lower elevations, the spring wildflowers of mid-March, mostly trillium, pop from the ground offering bits of color that soon disappear the higher you climb toward...

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Hiker set to finish all Smokies trails in record time

Maybe it’s the beard. “I really enjoy having my beard full of ice,” Benny Braden, 44, said on coming out of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after another long hike. “It was that way today – just getting covered head to toe in ice.” Braden, from Harriman, TN has been in the park a lot since Jan. 1. He’s on his way to setting a record March 18th for hiking all of...

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National Park Soundscapes

Natural and cultural sounds awaken a sense of awe that connects us to the splendor of national parks, and have a powerful effect on our emotions, attitudes and memories. From the mysterious calls of bugling elk in the Rocky Mountains to the patriotic, bugling trumpets heard across a historic battlefield, these sounds are part of a web of natural and cultural resources...

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Smokies Park Invites Public Comment on Cades Cove Solar Energy Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials invite the public to comment through March 20, 2017 on a proposed sustainable energy project. The National Park Service is proposing a solar power system to support the electrical power needs of the Cable Mill area in Cades Cove. This project would reduce usage of traditional fossil fuels and provide opportunities for park...

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Tune up your compass in the Smokies

Do you follow the North Star? For those sunny days when you’re hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where the night sky is unfortunately unavailable to assist you with navigation, make sure you’re on the right heading with proper adjustment to your compass. Did you know your compass needle doesn’t point directly to the north? The earths...

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Indian Creek and Juney Whank Loops at Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Deep Creek is one of many popular recreation areas found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Camping and picnicking are in abundance, as well as plenty of waterways for fishing and tubing. The assorted hiking trails also make it a fun destination for you and me. This hike, a combination of two different small loop trails affords the opportunity to visit the three...

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Smokies park plans solar eclipse viewing at Clingmans Dome

Where will you be on August 21, 2017 when the solar eclipse casts its shadow across the United States? At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials are planning a party to help you both view and understand the science of the eclipse. The park is offering an opportunity to experience the total eclipse through a special, ticketed event at Clingmans Dome as well as...

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Smokies park rangers need citizen science volunteers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are recruiting volunteers to adopt and monitor tree plots. The volunteers will collect information at tree plots throughout the park as part of an important research project tracking phenology, or cyclic and seasonal biological changes. For each plot of trees, volunteers will record when trees leaf out and when leaves start to...

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National Park Service monitoring new growth after Smokies fire

A team of scientists has been studying the plant and animal life as regrowth happens following the November 2016 Chimney Tops 2 fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The team has investigated 100 different areas and developed detailed maps of the impact by the fire. “The thing that stands out is the red areas. This is around the Bull Head trail area that a...

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Elkmont cabin preservation underway; some to be demolished

The evolution of historic Elkmont soon should be taking another step forward. The historic former logging/resort community in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been in an evolving state since 2009 when the National Park Service announced a plan to preserve part of the community after conducting an environmental impact study from 1992 through 2008. The plan has...

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Little River, Cucumber Gap, Jakes Creek Loop at Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Elkmont is a nice area of the Smokies to visit in winter. It’s quiet, historic, alive with waterways, and offers views of the surrounding mountains through the leafless trees. Little River is beautiful as always, the climb up and over Cucumber Gap is invigorating, and the timeless cottages of Daisy Town along Jakes Creek harken back to a simpler time in the...

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Smokies sets visitation record for 2016

Despite a late fall wildfire that shut down the park for nearly two weeks and scorched 11,000 acres, Great Smoky Mountains national park drew a record number of visitors last year. Park spokeswoman Jamie Sanders said more than 11.3 million people visited the Smokies in 2016, helping increase a healthy connection to the outdoors while boosting the economy. The visitation...

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New Year’s Eve at Cataloochee – A Photo Essay

Cataloochee Valley in the Smokies is of course most popular during the green seasons. People come from far and wide to experience the wildflowers in Spring, the myriad of hiking trails in Summer, and the exciting elk rut and colorful foliage in Fall. But Winter too has its appeal. Perhaps the best reason to go to Cataloochee in winter is the solitude. The crowds are...

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Great Smoky Mountains Natioanl Park Reopens Several Trails

Several trails that were closee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to the Chimney Tops 2 fire have been reopened effective December 17, 2016. Hikers are reminded to stay on established trails and to be cautious of overhead limbs and trail hazards throughout the area. The following areas are now open: Gatlinburg Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Huskey Gap...

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Fire restrictions on Appalachian Trail lifted; ban remains in Smokies

The National Park Service and Appalachian Trail Conservancy on December 7, 2016 lifted fire restrictions on 27.7 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Virginia, from Newport Road (Va. 624) north to Mountain Pass Road (Va. 652). This section of the AT includes the popular viewpoints of McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. Although fire hazard conditions have become...

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Solar grid proposed for the Smokies

A plan to replace a 3.5-mile overhead power line with a solar array to deliver energy to communications equipment atop Mount Sterling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open for public comment through Dec. 13. The existing overhead line extends from the park boundary at N.C. 284, Mount Sterling Road, to the Mount Sterling Fire Lookout Tower in Haywood County....

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