Great Smoky Mountains seeks hiking volunteers, ‘critical’ information

Do you love hiking? If so, the most-visited park in the nation wants your help. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to “adopt” sections of its many trails. Volunteers would hike at least one designated trail four times per year and tell the park what they see. The park said it would use volunteer input to figure out which trails...

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The locked gate: Road closure decisions complex in the Smokies

Lisa Hendy is an early riser, and when it comes to dealing with snow days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that’s a good thing. As chief ranger, Hendy’s responsibilities are many — but one of them is deciding when, if and for how long to close the roads when the weather gets bad. “Really what it boils down to is a combination of the forecast and observations on...

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Smokies Park Sets Visitation Record with 12.5 Million Visitors

Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed a record 12,547,743 visitors in 2019, which is 1,126,540 more visitors than in 2018. The park’s three primary entrances near Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Cherokee all had increased use, accounting for about two-thirds of the total park visitation. Secondary park entrances experienced tremendous growth, due primarily to the new...

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Smokies Park Announces Temporary Cataloochee Area Road Closures

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the main access road into the Cataloochee area, Cove Creek Road, will be closed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to conduct road repairs from February 10 through May 20, 2020. The county roadway will be closed to stabilize a hillside just outside the park. The secondary access road into the...

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Smokies Park Reminds Visitors about Cades Cove Winter Closure

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials remind visitors that Laurel Creek Road, the seven-mile access road leading from the Townsend Wye to Cades Cove, will be closed to all motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 5 through Saturday, February 29 to repair the Bote Mountain Tunnel. The full closure, beginning just past Tremont Road, is...

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Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Lawsuit Over Deadly Fire At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the National Park Service stemming from the deadly Chimney Tops 2 fire at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, holding that the park’s Fire Management Plan required that area residents be notified of the wildfire. When the Chimney Tops 2 fire was reported atop one of the many ridges of the...

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An October in Western North Carolina – A Photo Essay

Throughout the month of October, I traveled and hiked the high country of Western North Carolina seeking the seasonal change and corresponding forest color. One of the great things about the mountains is how you can follow the change as it lowers in elevation, starting with the highest peaks and ending in the lowest river valleys. My brother has been in the process of...

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Changes coming to LeConte, hikers explain appeal

Soon it may be easier to snag a treasured lodge reservation high up on Mt. LeConte. Dana Soehn from the National Park Service tells us the ‘standing reservation’ system has been slowly eliminated in the last few years. The process actually began in 1998. No more grandfathered weekends going forward. Starting next year, for the 2020 season, everyone will be on...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Adopts New Regulation for E-Bike Use

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the adoption of a new regulation to allow the use of low-speed electric bikes (e-bikes) in the park at all locations where bicycles are currently allowed. Both Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes, which can provide electronic assistance until the rider reaches a speed of 20 mph, are allowed under the new regulation. Park...

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Smokies Park Hosts Multiple Volunteer Opportunities in Celebration of National Public Lands Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a variety of opportunities on Saturday, September 28, 2019 in celebration of the 26th annual National Public Lands Day. On this day, National Park Service staff and volunteers will host information stations at popular sites throughout the national park. These stations will offer information about Leave No Trace principles and...

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Smokies Park reaches biodiversity milestone at 20,000 species

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has reached a biodiversity milestone with the discovery and documentation of 20,000 species of plants, animals, and other organisms. Scientists from across the world have assisted the park in a concerted effort to catalog all life in the park through an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI). “Reaching this milestone is a testament to...

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Park Webcams Provide Smokies Views and Weather

Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently installed webcams at Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome, providing visitors with near real-time access to weather conditions and views from the highest elevations in the park. The public can access images taken every 15 minutes, along with hourly information on temperature, humidity, wind speeds, precipitation, and air quality....

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Science at Sugarlands: Mysterious grassy balds

Mysterious and haunting, Southern Appalachian grassy balds have long fascinated scientists and hikers alike. How many balds are there in the Smokies? How did they evolve? How do they support rare plants? Can balds be found in other parts of the world? These and many other questions will be answered—or at least discussed—on Friday, August 16, 2019 when NPS forester Jesse...

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Park and DLiA Host Smokies Species Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the non-profit partner Discover Life in America (DLiA) are celebrating the diversity of life in the park by hosting “Smokies Species Day” at Sugarlands Visitor Center on Saturday, June 29, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Attendees can learn about fungi, slime molds, beetles, moths, butterflies, and other creatures of the Smokies...

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Red-cheeked Salamanders Are Great Smoky Mountain National Park Superheroes

The Red-cheeked Salamanders of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are superheroes. Found only in this unique park, research has revealed that the salamanders can secrete a special, toxic substance to keep predators away. Ranging from 3.5 to 5 inches long, the Red-cheeked Salamanders are generally dark gray in color, making their red cheeks and/or red legs really pop....

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Celebrating Cosby in the Smokies: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials invite the public to attend “Celebrating Cosby: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” community programs on Fridays beginning June 14, 2019 through August 2, 2019 at the Cosby Campground Amphitheater. The programs honor the rich cultural and natural history of the Cosby area through music, storytelling, and history walks. “These...

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Smokies National Park Hosts 2019 Women’s Work Festival

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Women’s Work Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum on Saturday, June 15, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The festival honors the vast contributions made by the women of Southern Appalachia. Park staff and volunteers will showcase mountain lifeways and customs that women practiced to care for their families in the...

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Smokies Park Invites Volunteers to an Appalachian Trail Work Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park staff and partners invite volunteers to participate in a service opportunity in celebration of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 1, 2019. The national park is once again working with the Friends of the Smokies, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Regional Office, and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club to host this large volunteer event...

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Trillium Gap Trail Rehabilitation Begins May 13, 2019 at Smokies Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that a 2-year trail rehabilitation project will begin next week on Trillium Gap Trail. Due to the construction process on the narrow trail, a full closure is necessary for the safety of both the crew and visitors. The trail and associated parking lot along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will be closed May 13...

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Schoolhouse Gap and Chestnut Top Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sure, there are lots and lots of wildflowers in April at Whiteoak Sink and on the hillside at the Townsend Y to make this hike seriously entertaining. But there is a lot more to the Schoolhouse Gap/Chestnut Top combination hike than abundant spring flowers. The views into Townsend from the Chestnut Top ridge are notable, and the forest that surrounds you throughout is...

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Meigs Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

With the perpetual crowd at The Sinks location in the Smokies, it was surprising to me that hardly anyone hikes this trail that starts at the popular waterfall along Little River Road. Another surprise was the abundance of spring ephemeral wildflowers found along the trail. I counted more than a dozen varieties, and plenty of each. Once you reach Meigs Creek, it’s...

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Smokies Park Announces 2019 Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the dates for firefly viewing in Elkmont. Shuttle service to the viewing area will be provided on Thursday, May 30 through Thursday, 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 late...

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101 things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the country for a good reason: there are countless things to do spread across two states and thousands of acres. But sometimes it can be difficult to pick just one thing to do in the park. Other times you may find yourself in a rut doing the same thing over and over. So here is a list of 101 things...

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Hiking through history: Little Cataloochee offers a window to the past

One hundred years ago, the parking area and campground just past the fields in Cataloochee Valley where elk often hang out was better known as Nellie, a remote community in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As anybody who’s ever driven the steep and narrow access road from Jonathan Creek can imagine, it was hard to get in and hard to get out in the...

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Smokies Park Hosts Trail Volunteer Opportunities in April

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced several volunteer workdays during the month of April, 2019 on popular trails as the park prepares for the busy summer season. These opportunities are ideal for people interested in learning more about the park and the trails program through hands-on service alongside experienced park staff. Volunteers will help...

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Springtime in the Great Smokies means synchronous firefly extravaganza is coming soon

Synchronous fireflies – the hottest ticket outside the flashing lights of Broadway – are about to get the party started. The chance to see Photinus carolinus, a firefly species whose males display synchronous flashes to attract mates, is so hotly anticipated and so rare, that the National Park Service had to limit the hordes of humans and now holds a lottery for tickets...

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Smokies Park and Eastern Band Cherokee Indians Finalize Agreement Allowing Sochan Gathering

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI) finalized a gathering agreement that allows the gathering of sochan (Rudbeckia laciniata) for traditional purposes by 36 permitted tribal members. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash and Principal Chief Richard Sneed were joined by tribal council members as they signed the historic...

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Smokies Park Recruits ‘Adopt-a-Plot’ Volunteers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are recruiting volunteers to adopt a monitoring plot in areas throughout the park. In an effort to track nature’s calendar, or phenology, volunteers will collect information as part of an important research project tracking seasonal biological data such as plant flowering dates and the presence of migratory birds. Previous...

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Chattanooga native named first female Chief Ranger of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

GSMNP officials say Lisa Hendy will oversee employees in the Resource and Visitor Protection Division who perform law enforcement duties, wildland fire operations, emergency medical services, search and rescue operations, backcountry operations, and staff the emergency communications center. The GSMNP says Hendy brings a wealth of experience to the position after serving...

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New Visitation Record Set Once Again at Smokies Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw a record 11,421,203 visitors in 2018. That slight, 0.7 percent increase over 2017, was attributed to the opening of the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley in November. In just two months, nearly 200,000 visitors experienced this new park opportunity, which resulted in record-setting visitation in...

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