Great Smoky Mountains National Park (with Map & Photos)

Great Smoky Mountains a national park and a large mountain range in the southern part of the Appalachians, located on the border of the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. The name (literally - "Smoky Mountains") is associated with the haze that often hangs over the mountains. Just like in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, the hydrocarbons produced by trees and other plants give the sky a bluish tint in humid conditions, visible even from a short distance. The most visited of the national parks in the eastern United States of America, the Smoky Mountains is home to the Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the world's longest hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail at 2030m. enjoy views of four states - Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

General Information

Almost 95% of the Great Smoky Mountains is covered by forests, with about 80% of the territory covered by various varieties of broadleaf forest. According to various estimates, from 20 to 36% of the territory is occupied by relic forests almost unaffected by human economic activity. In accordance with the species diversity, ecologists distinguish 5 main forest ecosystems: Appalachian forest, northern mixed forest, spruce-fir forest, hemlock forest and oak-pine forest. Each of these ecosystems is characteristic of a certain type of landscape and altitude. Almost 1600 species of flowering plants, 2250 species of fungi, 284 species of mosses, 305 species of lichens and 150 species of liverworts are found in the park. There are 142 species of trees growing here, more than any other park in North America. The treeless areas of the park are covered with meadow grassy vegetation, vineyard and heather. In addition, a small part of the ridge between Newfound Gap and Getlinburg is a bare rocky surface.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Many rare plants grow here - medicinal kupena, english wrestler and clobuchka dicentra, various orchids and trillums, several types of rhododendrons, yellow azalea and broad-leaved kalmiya. In autumn, the mountains, covered with an icy haze of hoarfrost, contrast strikingly with the green valleys with the elegant color of bright foliage.

Several rivers, also popular with tourists, originate from this region, and the short winter season allows you to enjoy skiing in centers such as Cataluchi and Ober, Gatlinburg.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park


The national park has more than 150 hiking trails of varying difficulty, with a total length of more than 1,300 km (800 miles), as well as about 885 km (550 miles) of horse riding trails. Most of them were laid by workers from the Civilian Environmental Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.

Traditionally, tourists are attracted here by the Appalachian Trail. This is a huge route for hiking, with a length of 3500 km. Beginning in Georgia and ending in Maine, the trail passes through North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The length of the trail within the park is about 114 km (71 miles); it begins at the Fontana Dam in the southeast of the park and ends at Davenport Gorge in the northwest. Another long hiking trail that goes far beyond the park is Mountains Two Sea, it starts at the highest point of the park, Mount Clingmans Dome, and ends on the Atlantic coast of North Carolina in the Cape Hatteras area.

The most popular routes are associated with climbing peaks or leading to waterfalls. Albright Grove, Boogerman Loop, Brushy Mountain, Chestnut Top, Cucumber Gap Loop, Deep Creek Loop, Fork Ridge Trail, Gregory Bald, Huskey Gap, Kanati Fork Trail, Little River Trail, Porters Creek Trail are most associated with spring blooms of a variety of flowers. Rich Mountain Loop, Schoolhouse Gap, Shuckstack Fire Tower and Smokemont Loop. A large number of trails offer panoramic views of the mountains and nearby valleys, including Alum Cave, Andrews Bald, Bullhead Trail, Chestnut Top, Chimney Tops, Gregory Bald, Mount Cammerer, Mount Sterling, Rich Mountain Loop and Rocky Top. Part of the routes runs along watercourses, the most famous of them are Cucumber Gap Loop, Huskey Gap, Kephart Prong Trail, Little River Trail,

Classic Appalachian forest can be experienced on the Cucumber Gap Loop and Porters Creek Trail, as well as around Cook's Hut on the banks of Little Cataloochi Creek. A cooler variety, which also contains plants characteristic of the northern mixed forest, is found in the Okolanufti River valley and on the banks of the Deep Creek stream.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park


There is no hotel or cottage service directly on the territory of the park, with the exception of the small cottage village of Le Conte Lodge, located on the top of Mount LeConte. However, 10 stationary campsites are open to visitors. They have more than 940 individual sites, each of which is equipped with a place to set up a tent, a fireplace, a picnic table and an asphalt driveway. Some of the sites allow you to put a camper on them, however, as a rule, there is no electrical and plumbing supply. The cost of renting an individual (for one tent) site is from 14 to 23, a group one is from 26 to 65 dollars per day. The largest campsites have shops where you can buy some food, camping equipment and souvenirs. There are no showers or laundry facilities in the park, these services are available in nearby towns. In addition to stationary campsites, camping is also allowed on specially designated sites in various parts of the park, subject to the availability of a permit. For visitors with horses, 5 specialized camps are open, through which riding routes pass. Finally, during daylight hours, vacationers can visit 11 picnic areas equipped with free toilets, grills and tables.

  • Abrams Creek is a small, 16-site campsite in the western part of the park near the creek of the same name. Open from the second decade of March to the end of October. Located at an altitude of 343 m (1125 ft).
  • Balsam Mountain is also a small, 46-site campsite. Located at an altitude of 1618 m (5310 feet) in the southeastern part of the park near the Indian reservation. Open from mid-May to late October.
  • Big Creek is a 12-site campsite on the east end of the park near the Appalachian Trail. Altitude 518 m (1700 ft) above sea level. Open from the second decade of March to the end of October.
  • Cades Cove - the third largest campsite in the park is located in the valley of the same name. The number of plots is 159, there is a shop. Open all year round.
  • Cataloochee is a campsite for 27 places in the southeast of the park. Altitude 795 m (2610 ft) above sea level. Pre-registration is required.
  • Cosby is the second largest, with 165 campsites, in the northeast of the Great Smoky Mountains. Altitude 750 m (2459 ft) above sea level. Open from the second decade of March to the end of October.
  • Deep Creek is a 92-site campground in the south of the park. Open from April to October. Altitude 549 m (1800 ft) above sea level.
  • Elkmont is the largest campsite in the park, with 220 sites. Located in the north near the central office, open from the second decade of March to the end of November. Altitude 655 m (2150 ft) above sea level.
  • Look Rock is a 68-bed campsite in the west of the park. Elevation 792 m (2600 ft) above sea level, open from mid-May to late October.
  • Smokemont is a campsite in the southeastern part of the park, near an Indian reservation. Number of plots - 142, open all year round. Altitude 670 m (2198 ft) above sea level.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Map