If you have ever stayed with us before, you have probably visited the Great Smoky Mountains. This national park is one of the most visited parks in the country, and we want to share some things you should know about it! Check out these top 5 things you should know about the Great Smoky Mountains:
1. There are 1,500 bears in the national park.
Black bears are kind of a mascot in the Smokies. Experts estimate there are about 1,500 black bears in the national park. That equals about 2 black bears per square mile! The top places you are likely to see a black bear are Cades Cove and out on a hiking trail. If you do happen to see a black bear while you are visiting the national park, do not get within 50 yards of it. This safe distance keeps bears and people safe.
2. It is the salamander capital of the world.
One thing many people don’t know about the Great Smoky Mountains is it is considered the salamander capital of the world. There are more species of salamanders in this area than anywhere else. About 30 different species live in the national park, and 26 of them are lungless. Instead of using lungs to breathe, these salamanders take in oxygen and put out carbon dioxide through their skin. You would probably see salamanders near creeks, waterfalls, and in other damp places.
3. There are over 800 miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The most popular activity in the national park is hiking. With over 800 miles of hiking trails, there are definitely a ton to choose from! If you’ve never been hiking before, there are plenty of easy trails for you to try. There are quite a few nature walks that are under a mile, and some trails where you can see pretty cool features, like Laurel Falls. There are a ton of moderate hiking trails, as well as difficult trails, which are great for avid hikers.
4. You can visit the park for free.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the only national parks you don’t have to pay to get in. Almost every other national park in the United States charges an entrance fee. Why do the Smokies not have one? When the national park was first being established, the government wanted a road that went through the national park. A few years before, North Carolina and Tennessee came together to build Newfound Gap Road. When the government asked to buy the road, North Carolina ceded immediately while Tennessee created a clause, saying they could never impose a toll on people to use the road. This translated into the national park not having an entrance fee!
5. There are multiple entrances to get in the national park.
Most people know about the main entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains, which is the Sugarland entrance. To get to this entrance, you have to go through Gatlinburg. Another way to get into the national park is through Townsend, Tennessee. This entrance is used significantly less, and it actually puts you closer to Newfound Gap and Cades Cove. A scenic entrance into the national park is through Wears Valley if you really want to take in the sights.
Now you know a little more about the Great Smoky Mountains! You’re probably ready to come back and spend more time in the mountains. Look through our condos in Gatlinburg and book one for your next trip today!