Are you interested in learning more about the area before coming for a visit? We’ve made a list of fun facts about the Great Smoky Mountains that you will want to know. Keep reading to find out what makes the Smoky Mountains smokey and other interesting things about the park!
1. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S.
Did you know that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is within a day’s drive of around two-thirds of the U.S. population? It’s not difficult to see how it has become the most visited national park. In fact, nearly 13 million people visited the park in 2022!
2. The Cherokee word for the Smoky Mountains means the “Land of Blue Smoke”.
“Shaconge” is what the Cherokee people called the mountains as they give off a smoky, bluish-tinted haze. It’s actually a vapor-like mist resulting from the combination of vegetation, humidity, sunlight, and rain levels.
3. There are around 800 miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains.
One of the best ways to explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park is by hiking! You can hike to a scenic overlook, to one of a dozen unique waterfalls, walk to the Elkmont Ghost Town, and tour the Walker Sisters Place, just to name a few highlights. In the spring, wildflowers bloom in abundance, and in the fall, the trees turn their brilliant hues, which attracts even more enthusiastic hikers. A couple more fun facts about the Great Smoky Mountains: 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail are in the national park, and approximately 550 of the 800 miles of hiking trails are open to horseback riders.
4. Nearly 100 historic structures have been preserved throughout the park.
The Smoky Mountains, particularly Cades Cove, contain many preserved pieces of Appalachian history, from churches and grist mills to homesteads, barns, cabins, and other unique structures. The John Oliver cabin is one of the oldest sites, most likely built in the 1820s.
5. Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the national park at 6,643 feet.
There are many trails you can take to reach an incredible mountaintop view, but nothing quite beats the spectacular panoramic views from the top of Clingmans Dome. The Appalachian Trail also intersects in the parking area of Clingmans Dome, so you can easily walk a portion of this iconic trail and cross two items off your Smoky Mountain bucket list at once!
6. It’s home to a variety of wildlife and is called the Salamandar Capital of the World!
It’s true–one of the most interesting fun facts about the Great Smoky Mountains is that there are 30 species of salamanders found in the park, as well as 14 species of frogs and toads. It’s estimated that around 1,500 black bears call the national park home, as well as over 200 species of birds, over 60 native fish species, and 65 other species of mammals, such as deer, squirrels, and raccoons.
Now you know some fun facts about the Great Smoky Mountains! To get ideas for your next family vacation, take a look at how we recommend spending one day in Pigeon Forge TN.