As the most visited national park in the country, there is a lot to know about Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Facts like how big the park is, how many species of trees there are, how many people visit annually and some of the best places to take a hike to enjoy the bounty of outdoor beauty to be found.
We’ve rounded up some fun facts that you might not know about Great Smoky Mountains National Park so you can make the most of your next visit to this beautiful area. From the unique animals and plants native to the area to the rich history of its people to the fact that it provides the backdrop for the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, these tidbits will make you and your family and friends visiting with you feel more a part of the landscape of this beautiful land!
Salamander Capital of the World!
Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains are the salamander capital of the world? More than 30 species call the area home, and five families of salamanders are represented and are found almost everywhere – in and along streams as well as under rocks and logs. Be on the lookout for these amphibians during a Smokies’ visit!
These Mountain are actually a Rainforest
Here’s another fact you might not know about the Smokies. Even though it’s not located in the tropics, Great Smoky Mountains National Park actually is a bio-diverse rainforest! And the mist that gives these mountains their name – did you know that it’s all the trees in the Smokies “exhaling” that causes the “smoke-y” atmosphere. The Cherokees who inhabited this area had their own name for it – Shaconage – meaning “place of blue smoke.” Regardless of what you call it, the fog and mist give the Smokies a special beauty found nowhere else!
Not only is Great Smoky Mountains National Park the oldest mountain range in the country, it is one of the oldest in the world! Did you know that? And two-thirds of the current forest is new growth. There are five forest zones in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that are differentiated by elevation – the cove hardwood forest; pine and oak forest, hemlock forest, northern hardwood forest and the spruce fir forest. Who knew there were that many different and specific areas in our mountains – there are so many interesting things to learn about the Smokies!
2 States – 1 Big Park!
Most people know that our mountains are BIG; Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses 522,419 acres, which is split almost equally between Tennessee and North Carolina. Did you know that the Smokies are the only national park with the land split almost evenly between two states!
The Rockefeller family helped purchase much of the land that became the national park, which was established in 1934 and dedicated in 1940 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. You can see the platform where FDR made his speech dedicating the national park at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line; consider taking a PINK Jeep tour to the site so that you can take in the terrain of the mountain in that area. For President Roosevelt’s speech, more than eight miles of power lines had to be laid so that electricity would be available, and 14 miles of wire were laid for NBC and CBS to provide their news coverage of FDR’s speech there at Newfound Gap.
So many interesting facts about Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as interesting historical facts about this unique area – you have to check out this and more on your next trip to the area when you are taking the family to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country.