Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States. It’s not hard to believe. There is a lot to do in the mountains! The Smoky Mountains National Park website is an excellent source for Smokies information and is a good guide to use in planning a fun-filled Smoky Mountain vacation or family outing.
The Smoky Mountains, TN area is an amazing place to visit. The park has over 900 miles of hiking trails for any level of hiker. Many of the hikes pass or end at cascading waterfalls and scenic vistas. A wide range of easy day hikes can be found throughout the park. The Appalachian Trail runs through the park and crosses many of the park trails.
Aside from the hundreds of miles of hiking trails, mountain drives and breathtaking views, the chance to see a bear or any number of other interesting wild creatures is still very real. In fact, it is the rare visitor who does not see a variety of wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The diversity of the flora and fauna of the Smoky Mountains, TN region has awed many a visitor.
In addition to the animals, the park is world-renowned for its spectacular orange, yellow, and red foliage in the fall. Although throughout the seasons, wild flowers are in bloom at different altitudes. The park boasts over 1,500 species of native flowering plants, making this a haven for plant lovers of all ages and levels of expertise.
Besides the uncompromising beauty, there’s so much to see and do, it is impossible to even scratch the surface in a day. The park and the surrounding area provide a range of activities for anyone from the outdoor lover to the avid shopper. Because of the abundant nature of this region, the best way to enjoy a Smoky Mountain vacation is to stay several nights and explore the terrain. The park service maintains hundreds of campsites for those whose ideal recess is camping. Towns on the outskirts of the park provide seasonal events, restaurants, nightlife, and lodging (such as hotels, condos, Bed and Breakfast and secluded cabins). No wonder ten million people a year visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
What’s in a name? Sometimes just enough to be confusing, especially for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. Depending on what you read, hear or watch on television, you’ll come across any number of different names for the region and even spellings, so let us set you straight with a few basics.
For starters, the proper name for the mountain range itself is the Great Smoky Mountains. Acceptable shortened forms include the Smoky Mountains or simply the Smokies. However, you may, from time to time, come across incorrect spellings, including “Smokey Mountains” (note the unnecessary “E”) or even “Smokeys” (the “EYS” at the end is also wrong).
When referring to the national park named for the mountains, the correct name is “Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” You’ll hear a lot of folks say “THE Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” but that “the” really isn’t necessary. You may also hear “Great Smoky Mountain National Park” (without an “S” at the end of “Mountain”), but that’s also incorrect.
Incidentally, the name of the mountains comes from the fog-like haze that often settles in the valleys. To early settlers, it resembled smoke, and thus the mountains were named.