Word from the Smokies

  1. New Issue of "Smokies Life" Celebrates Trees and Their Stories

    New Issue of Have you ever tried to count the number of branches on a tree? One limb leads to many appendages from which grow several more, each with its own shape, size, and direction. The prospect of keeping them sorted long enough to perform an accurate count presents a nigh-impossible task. It might seem easier to count the number of trees on an acre Read more...
  2. Parks as Classrooms Offers Kids Unforgettable Experiences

    Parks as Classrooms Offers Kids Unforgettable Experiences Courtney Lix grew up entwined in the natural and cultural history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park like a vine climbing up an ancient tree. Her grandfather, Henry Lix, was a park service employee who came to the Smokies to work as a naturalist in 1951. By 1953, he had founded the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association (today Read more...
  3. Smokies Volunteers Chase Butterflies for Science

    Smokies Volunteers Chase Butterflies for Science Every fall, Great Smoky Mountains National Park plays host to what might best be described as a moving miracle. In the sunny, open valleys around Cataloochee and Cades Cove, iconic monarch butterflies descend to nectar and take shelter in fields of native wildflowers and grasses.  After their pitstop, the butterflies resume their long Read more...
  4. When the Student Becomes the Teacher

    When the Student Becomes the Teacher Story and photos by Sue Wasserman The more you know, the more you care, the better you can do. It’s a naïve thought, but it’s what I choose to believe, especially in my capacity as Great Smoky Mountains Association’s 2022 Steve Kemp Writer in Residence. I shared this thought with an Illinois family I met on a late Read more...
  5. Put safety first as elk herd enjoys 21st rut season

    Put safety first as elk herd enjoys 21st rut season While humans are focused on world events and weather updates, elk have only one thing on their minds. From now to early November, hormones kick in and these large ungulates go into overdrive. During the fall breeding season, bulls’ antlers reach maturity, and their ethereal bugling calls resonate through fields and forests within the park Read more...
  6. A Sweet Harvest Tradition Returns

    A Sweet Harvest Tradition Returns Not so long ago, many farming families in Southern Appalachia celebrated the long-anticipated arrival of the harvest season with a special treat: fresh sorghum syrup. Today, thousands still flock to see the syrup-making process and get a taste of the sweet stuff when Mark and Sherry Guenther of Muddy Pond Sorghum host their seasonal Read more...
  7. Plan Ahead for the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

    Plan Ahead for the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Soon the long, sultry days of summer will be behind us, and autumn will be on the horizon. But some nature lovers in the Smokies may already be enthusiastically awaiting spring and a decades-old event that celebrates the remarkable diversity of wildflowers found in our region. For more than seven decades, the Spring Wildflower Read more...
  8. Scientists discover new salamander species hiding in plain sight

    Scientists discover new salamander species hiding in plain sight Until recently, it was thought that 30 species of salamander live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But a recent article in Bionomia, the international journal devoted to biological naming, announced that what was believed to be one species of salamander has been found to actually consist of at least four distinct species, two of which Read more...
  9. Scientist Uncovers Secret Life of Soil

    Scientist Uncovers Secret Life of Soil Some connections in the vast web of life are little easier to see than others. In the Smokies this time of year, black bears lumber up the swaying branches of native cherry trees to feast on dark, sun-ripened fruit. Wood thrushes swoop down from their perches to snatch fat caterpillars and worms from the forest floor. A hungry snail might Read more...
  10. Remote cabin memorializes important Southern artist

    Remote cabin memorializes important Southern artist Pam Yarnell, an avid hiker and a member of Great Smoky Mountains Association, sent me an email in February of this year asking for my help. She wanted to make sure others were able to learn about a significant artist who had a special connection to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “A few years ago, a handful of us were hiking in the Read more...

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