Smokies Guide - Official Park Newspaper of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fall 2019

Summer 2019

Spring 2019

Winter 2018-2019

Fall 2018

Late Summer 2018

New 15-Mile Section of Foothills Parkway to Open This Year

A unique segment of the scenic roadway gets its grand opening!

The ‘Missing Link,’ a 1.5-mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley, TN, is about to be found. And from the looks of it, this unique segment of scenic roadway will be discovered by many, many happy visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Summer 2018

The Year of the Bird

A considerable diversity of habitat, topography and climatic conditions make the Smokies a prime spot for birdwatching!

As designated by National Geographic, the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and dozens of other organizations—including the National Park Service—2018 is the Year of the Bird. Visitors to our park of every age can help birds by becoming involved in a citizen science project called AT Seasons.

Spring 2018

Finding flowers

The Smokies is home to more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants

Few places in the world can rival the abundance and diversity of spring wildflowers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The reasons for this exuberance are legion, including plentiful rainfall, variety of elevations and slope exposures, long growing season, national park protection and the lack of glaciation during past ice ages.

Winter 2017-2018

Winter Driving in the Mountains

Use caution when driving park roads in winter as temperatures and conditions can change rapidly

The 33-mile-long Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) is the main automobile route through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It crosses the crest of the Smoky Mountains at Newfound Gap (elevation 5,046’) to connect the towns of Gatlinburg, TN, and Cherokee, NC. Driving time is typically one hour

Fall 2017

The Fall “Rut” Is On!

Approximately 200 elk now live in the vicinity of the national park.

This autumn, Smoky Mountain elk will be players in a courtship ritual that is one of the great spectacles of the North American animal kingdom. Mature male (bull) elk will compete for control of groups of females called “harems.”

Summer 2017

Plan Ahead for Eclipse

The influx of eclipse viewers could gridlock park roads on August 21.

Park officials are anticipating record visitation to the Smokies for the solar eclipse on August 21. The last total solar eclipse visible from the Lower 48 states was nearly 40 years ago.

Spring 2017

Of Bears and Wildfire

Wildlife biologists estimate that 1,600 black bears live in the park

When wildfires impact a forest, biologists usually receive only anecdotal information about how wildlife responds. For bear researchers in the Smokies, last year’s late November wildfires were different

Winter 2016-17

Bobcats are Phantom Felines of the Smokies

Bobcats find shelter in hollow logs, rock outcroppings, and under rootballs. Though rarely seen, bobcats are quite numerous in the Smokies.

You don’t see them, but they are here. When you hike, they peer from rock outcrops and tangles of brush. As you drive, you pass them dozing on hillsides in hollow logs and under the rootballs of windfall trees. This writer once watched a bobcat sitting on a boulder beside the busiest road in the park in broad daylight, while scores of cars passed unknowingly.

Fall 2016

This Fox is Perfectly Suited for the Forest

Both gray and red fox live in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Of all the canids that live (or once lived) in the Great Smoky Mountains, including the coyote, red fox, grey wolf, and red wolf, none is better adapted for life in the woods than the grey fox. Not only does the grey fox hunt for a dizzying array of foods that abound in a forest environment, but this fox also has the special ability to climb a tree to reach some of them.

Late Summer 2016

Waterfall Watching

180-foot-tall Mingo Falls is a 5-mile drive from downtown Cherokee.

Over 80 inches of annual rainfall drenches the summits of the Great Smoky Mountains before plummeting more than a vertical mile to the valleys below. This combination of climate and geography make the Smokies a premier place for watching waterfalls.

Summer 2016

Backroads and Byways of the Great Smokies

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a cross between a nature trail and a road—a scenic, steep, narrow, winding, but paved primitive roadway

During the peak summer season, many of the national park’s main roads such as Cades Cove Loop and Newfound Gap will become busy and congested. Fortunately, this 800 square mile park offers a variety of backroads and off-the-beaten-path routes for those who long to escape the crowds.

*Please Note - A location error appears on Page 12. Those interested in attending Tuesday "Stream Splasher" programs listed in Cades Cove Area should meet at Cades Cove Visitor Center at 1 p.m., not at Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Spring 2016

Spring Brings Out Baby Animals in the Smokies

Opossums are marsupials that nurse their young in an abdominal pouch. It takes about three months for the joeys to be weaned.

What is getting born this spring in the Great Smoky Mountains? Bear cubs were born in their dens during mid-winter; they usually emerge with mom sometime in April or early May. Fresh from the den, cubs are tiny, weighing only four to seven pounds. By fall they will grow to 30-50 pounds.

Winter 2015

Enjoy This Winter in the Mountains Safely

Newfound Gap Road offers visitors a glimpse of the high country.

The 33-mile-long Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) is the main automobile route through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It crosses the crest of the Smoky Mountains at Newfound Gap (elevation 5,046’) to connect the towns of Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC. Driving time is typically one hour.

Fall 2015

Head Out to “Find Your Park” this Year

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonderland where families can explore the great outdoors and spend quality time together

Ninety-nine years ago the National Park Service was created to defend Yellowstone and other sites against wildlife poachers and artefact collectors who were hauling away pieces of our national parks and monuments by the wagon load. Today the same Service protects over 400 parks, seashores, historic sites, battlefields, trails, lakeshores, and other national treasures in such a way as to “leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Late Summer 2015

National Park Service News Briefs

Researcher Studies Impact of Sounds

IS PEACE AND QUIET as important to national park visitors as clean water and clear air? Are the sounds of singing birds, bugling elk, and rushing mountain streams part of your memorable park experience? Researcher Scott McFarland will be in the Smokies this summer monitoring some of the noisiest and quietest areas of our park. His data will help park officials shape future management actions with the value of natural sounds and quiet in mind

Summer 2015

Smokies’ “Boomer” Gives Up to its Name

Mountain folk nicknamed red squirrels “Boomers” because they chatter loud and long whenever they feel their territory is being invaded.

If you have ever encountered a red squirrel (aka “Boomer”) in the Great Smoky Mountains, you have probably been scolded by red squirrel in the Great Smoky Mountains. The red squirrel is a highly vocal animal as well as a very territorial one. Perched on a tree limb just beyond your reach, a red squirrel will chatter at you incessantly, determined to make you aware of your trespass on its territory

Spring 2015

Wildflower Auto Tours

Trilliums have three leaves, three petals, and three sepals

Several roads in the national park provide good spring wildflower viewing from your car. See the map on pages 8-9 for more information. Please be safe and courteous by using pullouts along roadways to view wildflowers and wildlife.

HERE to find the CCC document referenced on Page 13

Winter 2014-15

Leave it to Beavers

Beavers and their dams are on the increase in the Great Smokies.

Like elk and otter, beavers were eliminated from the Great Smoky Mountains prior to the establishment of the national park in 1934. Unregulated hunting and trapping, as well as agricultural practices, likely led to their demise

Fall 2014

Bears On Move, Fall Shuffle Has Begun

Every year approximately 1,600 black bears and nine million humans share Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s 800 square mile area.

During the fall, the success of bears in the Great Smoky Mountains depends almost entirely on what biologists call the “mast crop.” They divide mast into two groups, soft (blackberries, cherries, grapes, blueberries, etc.) and hard (acorns, hickory nuts, and beechnuts).

Late Summer 2014

Park Crews Restoring Cades Cove Meadows

The areas in Cades Cove that have been restored to natural meadows support native flowers, quail, deer, hawks, and other flora and fauna.

Park Service managers were pleasantly surprised this winter when bird watchers and photographers flocked to Cades Cove to see some unusual birds of prey. The bird lovers were rewarded with frequent sightings of both short-eared owl and northern harrier, especially in the fields the Park Service has been restoring to natural meadows.

Summer 2014

Exhibit Pays Homage to Passenger Pigeon

A taxidermied male passenger pigeon is on display this summer at the Sugarlands Visitor Center museum. The specimen dates back to 1856

Visitors to the park’s Sugarlands Visitor Center this summer will have the rare opportunity to view an excellent specimen of the now-extinct passenger pigeon. The mounted pigeon has been in the park’s natural history collection since 1987 but has never been widely displayed until now

Spring 2014

More than Dogwoods Bloom in the Park

Redbud trees are some of the showiest “wildflowers” in the Smokies

Dogwood trees are famous for their spring flowers. So are redbuds. But many people never come to realize that almost every tree and shrub in the Great Smoky Mountains is indeed a flowering plant, that it’s a “wildflower” in its own right, just one with a woody stem or trunk.

Winter 2013

Winter is Best Time for History Hiking

Winter visitors explore Mingus Mill near the Oconaluftee area

Prior to the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the 1920s and ‘30s, this rugged terrain was populated by over 1,000 families who worked small farms and raised livestock. The relics of their habitation include homes, barns, grist mills, churches, schools, and stone fences.

Fall 2013

We’re in a Real Rut!

Cataloochee Valley is the best place to see and hear elk in fall.

This autumn, Smoky Mountain elk will be players in a courtship ritual that is one of the great spectacles of the North American animal kingdom. Mature male (bull) elk will compete for control of groups of females called “harems.”

Summer 2013

Park is Perfect for a Walk in the Woods

The park’s trails lead to waterfalls, scenic views, historic sites, and more

With over 150 different hiking trails spanning more than 800 linear miles, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect place to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and take a walk in the woods.