The United States of America has many national parks, but none of them are probably as popular as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This national park is a favorite among people who love nature and the great outdoors. Its nature trails that stretch miles upon miles and encompass a variety of breathtaking landscapes have gained the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a hikers’ paradise.
About Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The chain of the Great Smoky Mountains is part of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains, which in turn is part of the greater chain of the Appalachian. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself straddles the states of Tennessee and North Carolina, with the boundaries of these two states dissecting the national park almost neatly in half.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the largest parks in the United States, with a total area of 814 square miles. Once, the area occupied by this park comprises part of the homeland of the Cherokee Indians before they were driven out by the white settlers in the 18th century. These settlers transformed the area into a logging colony.
Early preservationists, however, have realized that logging is quickly destroying the natural beauty of the area, and have pushed for the creation of the park. In 1934, the area became officially known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and fell under the protection of the US federal government. It was then named as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO in 1983.
The Hikers Paradise
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been fondly nicknamed as a hikers’ paradise simply because it has 850 miles of hiking trails that wind through a variety of surfaces and landscapes. These trails can be very challenging even to the fittest of hikers not only because these trails are long but also because of the ruggedness of the terrain. Also, hikers have to face the challenge of having to avoid bears, snakes and various insects.
Visitors going to the Great Smoky Mountains can always choose their route for their hiking, and there are so many routes to choose from. The most popular of these routes are those that lead to Cades Cove and Clingman’s Dome.
Cades Cove is actually the most visited part of the national park. It is an isolated valley where a thriving community once lived before the formation of the national park. The homesteads and churches left by former residents of Cades Cove are still preserved today. It is now a meadow that offers many scenic mountain views. It is also a place where visitors can look forward to watching deer and to sightings of black bears.
Clingman’s Dome, on the other hand, is the highest point of the national park, the tallest mountain in the park and in all of Tennessee. There is a concrete observation tower there that provides magnificent panoramic views of the park’s entirety.
Other Activities at the Park
Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can still enjoy their trip to the park even if they are not the sort to go hiking. The park has a lot of camping sites, with some actually fitted with restrooms and lodgings. It also has a number of picnic grounds.
Anglers can go fishing in the streams and creeks of the park, where trout and rock bass are plenty. However, one would need a fishing license to do so, and there are restrictions on the kinds of hooks and bait to be used here. Because there is an active effort to encourage the growth of the trout population in the waters covered by the park, anglers are limited to a catch of five trout and 20 rock bass per day.
Other activities popular at the park include horseback riding and viewing wildflowers. There are 1,660 species of wildflowers at the park, thus earning it its alternative nickname of Wildflower National Park.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a patch of natural, breathtaking beauty. It must be seen with one’s own eyes.