4 Interesting Things About the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park and with 520,000 acres of lush landscape and beauty, it’s easy to see why. In 2018 the park welcomed 11,421,200 million visitors. The second most visited national park, the Grand Canyon, had half of the number of guests. Due to the park being our right next door to the city, a large percentage of those traveling to experience the Smokies choose to stay in Gatlinburg. That’s why we wanted to put together a few interesting facts about the Smokies and the beautiful mountains that we call home. We want you to have fun facts to add to the excitement of your vacation and when you arrive at The Appy, we want you to feel like you have arrived at your home away from home. As you read along, we hope that you’ll enjoy getting to know the Great Smokies!
A Wildflower Wonderland
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is made up of a never-ending and diverse list of plant life, including 300 rare species. A portion of that very special part of the park is the 1,500 kinds of wildflowers that are found within the park boundaries. Thanks to the range of elevations in the park, blooms can be found from the ending weeks of winter to the late months of autumn. Throughout the hills of the forests, in the fields and even roadside, you’ll find 10 species of trillium, 30 species of native orchids, spring blooms, vibrantly colored flowers of summer, golds in the autumn and so much more. Every wildflower that you see has a story and a purpose, so while we certainly encourage wildflower hunting, we must also ask that you take only photographs during your visit. For the protection of the wondrous species of plant life in the park, it is illegal to remove any parts of each plant. Blooms only last a short time anyhow and photographs can last forever. Happy hunting!
Mountains of the Great Smokies
Within the section of the Great Smokies that lie in the boundaries of the national park, there are a total of 16 mountains with an elevation of 5,000ft or higher. Clingmans Dome is the highest summit at an elevation of 6,643ft. The second highest is a lesser-known mountain and one that it rarely summited, Mount Guyot. Third, is Mount LeConte, one of the most loved summits in the park. The LeConte Lodge is also located on Mount LeConte and is the highest guest lodge in the eastern portion of the country. LeConte is a popular destination for day hikers and overnight adventure seekers. Our hotel is within 15 minutes of some of the most popular trails for accessing the lodge. This makes booking a stay with us perfect for a day hike or even to get an early start on the trail the morning of your overnighter on top of the world.
Long before the land was acquired and the park was established, the Smokies were home to many people. The Cherokee roamed the land first and then came the first settlers. Native Americans were forced to leave, with only a few hiding out in the mountains and eventually settling in the area now known as Cherokee, specifically The Qualla. Settlers continued to move into the area along with logging companies and eventually the elite from nearby cities came to vacation in Elkmont and other areas. Once the Great Smoky Mountains National Park officially became a park in 1934, as many as 1,200 land-owners had to leave their homes, land, and communities. All structures were left behind and over 90 were preserved and left in the park. The Smokies now contains the largest set of historical log buildings in the east, as well as many other artifacts, tucked away in hills. 150 cemeteries and numerous churches can also be found. During your visit to the Smokies, take time to explore a church, a mill, the homes of Elkmont or another glimpse into the past that is certain to leave a long-lasting appreciation of the past. Insider Tip: At mile 2 of the Middle Prong Trail, you’ll find a side trail that will take you to the opportunity to view a 100-year-old Cadillac left behind by the CCC. Look, but please don’t touch – we would love for many generations after us to have the same privilege.
A Natural Light Show
A group of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s smallest residents causes one of the biggest stirs of excitement every year. The natural light show put on by the synchronous fireflies of Elkmont draws so many fans that the park now holds a lottery for parking and shuttle access. Viewing of the fireflies truly is one of the most phenomenal and unique experiences that you can have in the park. There are at least 19 species of fireflies that live in the Smokies, however, the synchronous fireflies are the only species in the country that synchronize their light patterns. The Little River Trail is the best trail to view the fireflies. The lottery for 2019 vehicle passes opens on Friday, April 26th and closed on Monday, April 29th. Check the GSMNP website for exact times and more details on the event.
Want to know what else is interesting about the Smokies? Check out these homes for some of the best hidden gems in the national park!
Our hotel is the perfect base camp for exploring the wildflowers, roaming the trails in search of history, checking off your Smokies bucket list or getting a great night of rest after watching the phenomenon of the Elkmont fireflies!
To start planning your next trip to the Smokies, click here! → The Appy Lodge