Ken Burns shares secrets of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

“There is a great human story” of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to Ken Burns, the Emmy award-winning filmmaker. As co-creator of the PBS series America’s Best Idea: The National Parks, Burns and his team spent over six years filming in national parks across the United States.

Burns sat down with USA TODAY and shared the secrets of Great Smoky Mountains and nine other national parks for a special 10-part series, Secrets of the National Parks.

While the U.S. national parks celebrate nature at its best, Burns says that there’s a great drama to the Smoky Mountains. Creation of the park forced the removal of existing towns and “not everyone wanted to be removed,” Burns said. “Remember they’re leaving dead family members in the family cemetery … or churches that they worshiped in all their lives. A lot of people were grandfathered in and permitted to stay there until they passed away and then it became a part of our common wealth.”

Burns says that one of the best things about this park is its intimacy. All you “need to do is park and get off the many, many roads of this large park and see that blue mountain haze that is part of this beautiful mythological place.”

Watch the video to hear what two trails are Burns’ favorites in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


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