News

  1. Please don't pick our wildflowers

    Every year, visitors from all over the world travel to the Smoky Mountains to view our park's wildflowers. My favorite, Indian Pink, are blooming now at Sugarlands Visitor Center!

    Learning to identify wildflowers is just one way of enjoying the native flora of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Wildflower photography, learning about folk and medicinal uses of wild plants, connecting with the cultural history of the Smokies, and using native plants as a source for artistic inspiration are some of the activities wildflower enthusiasts and aspiring naturalists enjoy. 

    Some even desire to reproduce the beauty of this park in their own home gardens by self-propagating. Others want to pick a flower and save it as a reminder of their visit. Just last week, I saw an Instagram photo of someone with yellow trillium in their hair. All of these are considered poaching – unlawful acts that do great damage to the delicate ecosystem within our park. So I beg you, do not pick wildflowers! 

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  2. Pollinator garden dedication marks first of DLIA talk series at Sugarlands

    Pollinator garden dedication marks first of DLIA talk series at Sugarlands

    Discover Life in America dedicated the pollinator garden at Sugarlands Visitor Center on May 18 and kicked off its Science at Sugarlands series, a collection of talks to be held the third Friday of each month through October. A collaboration between DLIA, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Great Smoky Mountains Association, the pollinator garden project used native plants to rehabilitate ten existing overgrown plant beds and to provide much-needed habitat for native pollinators.

    “One goal of the project is to connect the visitors with the natural community and remind them of the important interactions between flora and fauna,” said DLIA Executive Director Todd Witcher. “Signage was developed to interpret the beds and to inform visitors about creating habitat for pollinators in their own backyard.”

    The garden had been a gleam in Witcher’s eye since 2014 when the White House implemented a National Pollinator Health Strategy. “It was recognized that there has been a decline in insect pollinators nationwide, so funding was made available to agencies for projects that address this issue, including research and habitat improvements,” he said.

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  3. Country store ledgers provide an intimate look at lives from the past

    Country store ledgers provide an intimate look at lives from the past

    Long before the rise and decline of Piggly Wiggly and the A&P, before electronic cash registers and barcode scanners, and before the cash and carry business model, the country store was where people in Southern Appalachia bought their dry goods and sundries. Customers brought in their “greenbacks” (if they had them) and traded with the proprietor for needed items.

    If they didn’t have ready cash, they were often given credit and allowed to take what they needed. At some date in the future, the customer would pay off the debt with currency or goods the proprietor could sell to other customers: eggs, butter, bacon, mutton, firewood or whiskey. These transactions were usually recorded in the store keeper’s ledger book. Sometimes arranged by name, the entries recorded the date of the transaction, items purchased and their cost, and whether payment was received in cash, credit or kind. Not only did the store ledger serve as the store keeper’s accounting system, surviving volumes provide a fascinating glimpse into the everyday lives of ordinary people.

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  4. Author of Smokies rescues book experiences one first-hand

    Author of Smokies rescues book experiences one first-hand

    If you’ve ever come face-to-face with a group of your heroes, then you understand one of the many emotions author David Brill experienced while hiking recently in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    As the author of Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Brill spent months researching how the national park’s search and rescue personnel respond to emergencies. Published by Great Smoky Mountains Association, Into the Mist has become one of the nonprofit’s most popular books of all time. What Brill himself experienced late last month could be told in Volume 2 of the Into the Mist series.

    While researching an upcoming article on the park’s Old Settlers Trail for GSMA’s Smokies Life magazine, Brill and national park archivist Michael Aday found themselves hiking in a light rain when the unthinkable happened. With just over a mile to go before reaching their campsite for the night, Aday slipped on a slick rock and suffered a compound fracture of his tibia at the last stream crossing of the day.

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  5. Clingmans Dome Road to opens March 31

    Clingmans Dome Road to opens March 31

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced plans to open Clingmans Dome Road this weekend beginning Saturday, March 31.

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  6. David Brill to speak at Hot Springs Trail Fest

    David Brill to speak at Hot Springs Trail Fest

    Among several upcoming public appearances for David Brill, author of GSMA’s recent release Into the Mist, is Hot Springs Trail Fest, where he will speak on Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m. at the Town Welcome Center in Hot Springs, N.C.

    Brill will recount his 2,100-mile trek across 14 states as he joined thousands of other men and women following the white blazes along the Appalachian Trail.

    “The annual Trail Fest celebration draws a large and diverse crowd of current thru-hikers, trail enthusiasts and nature lovers to one of the best-loved towns along the entire trail route," Brill said. "For the event, Hot Springs pulls out all the stops in providing great entertainment, food and music to celebrate the arrival of spring, when the weather's warm and flowering plants and trees are at their peak.”

    Brill, who thru-hiked the AT in 1979, has written articles on science, ecology, the environment, business, health, fitness, parenting and adventure travel that have appeared in more than 25 national and regional magazines, including Smokies Life. He has published five non-fiction books and has found a special niche of study in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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  7. Winter hiking tips

    Winter hiking tips

    A Little Sluice of Heaven originated when Dana Murphy and I – on separate days, as it turns out – did the same hike only in different directions right around New Year’s Eve. She prefers uphill climbs, so she started at Kephart Prong just off U.S. 441 and climbed to the shelter. From there she took Grassy Branch to Dry Sluice, and that’s where things started to get icy. From the Dry Sluice intersection, it’s a rather grueling 1.3-mile climb to the Appalachian Trail, which she followed past Charlies Bunion, ending up at Newfound Gap. The next day, I did the same, only in the opposite direction.

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  8. The Strange Case of Cades Lake

    The Strange Case of Cades Lake

    Depending on who you were and what you stood for, the idea of turning most of Cades Cove into a 50-foot-deep lake—three miles long and two miles wide—was either brilliant or terrible.

    Pro-lake constituents included National Park Service Director Arno B. Cammerer (immortalized by the naming of Mt. Cammerer), Tennessee Governor Gordon Browning, the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association, park booster Col. David Chapman, and Knoxville City Manager George Dempster.

    Those opposed included acting and former NPS Directors Stephen Mather and Horace Albright, Robert Sterling Yard of the National Parks Association, and stalwart conservationists Harvey Broome Benton MacKaye.

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  9. Grave Words

    What will your last immortal words to the world be, those ‘carved in stone’ on the monument that marks your grave? For inspiration, here are some famous examples:

    Merv Griffith: “I will not be right back after this message.”

    Robert Frost: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”

    Winston Churchill: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

    Irish comedian Spike Milligan: “I told you I was ill.”

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  10. GSMA set to release its fourth album of traditional American music

    GSMA set to release its fourth album of traditional American music

    Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition celebrates Appalachia’s rich legacy of songs that tell stories, a tradition traceable to the British Isles. Big Bend Killing features 32 new recordings of traditional ballads by leading UK- and American-roots music luminaries, including Rosanne Cash, Doyle Lawson, Archie Fisher, Alice Gerrard, Sheila Kay Adams, Martin Simpson, Jody Stecher, Kate Brislin, David Holt, John Lilly, Elizabeth LaPrelle, Amythyst Kiah, and Laura Boosinger with the Kruger Brothers.

    “This album offers 32 remarkable ballad performances, 31 of which have never been released,” said Ted Olson, professor of Appalachian Studies and Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University and the album’s producer. “Our goal with this album is to encourage people – young and old – to recognize the enduring beauty of these often overlooked narrative songs, and our hope is that more people will sing these and other ballads so that the tradition won’t fade away."

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