sunrise in the Great Smoky Mountains with fog covering the valley

5 Fun Facts About the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

February 13, 2024

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been a favorite destination for generations. The national park is full of natural beauty and fascinating history, and it’s exciting to see everything the mountains have to offer. Here’s a list of some fun facts about the Great Smoky Mountains so you can learn more about this breathtaking area.

1. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Most Visited National Park in the U.S.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place for families and travelers of all ages to visit, which is why it’s the most visited national park in the United States. The Great Smoky Mountains are within just a day’s drive to more than half the population of the U.S., making the area easy to get to for many people. Tens of millions of people visit the national park each year, with more than 13 million visitors in 2023 alone.

2. The Great Smoky Mountains are the Salamander Capital of the World.

Junaluska salamander in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to over 30 species of salamanders. Of these species, 24 are species of lungless salamanders who breathe through their skin. This is the only place in the world with so many salamanders in one area. That’s why the Great Smoky Mountains have become known as the “salamander capital of the world.” Salamanders aren’t the only unique animals in the national park, though. Scientists have documented more than 17,000 species of animals and plants, and they are finding more all the time.

3. The “Smoke” is Created by Plants.

The Great Smoky Mountains get their name from their smoky appearance. The original Cherokee word for the Smoky Mountains is “Shaconage” which means “Land of Blue Smoke.” This “smoke” is a blue-tinged fog or mist that is created by the plants in the national park. The vegetation in the mountains gives off a vapor that is released into the air to form fog. The molecules in the vapor scatter blue light from the sky, giving the fog its blue appearance.

4. There Are More Than 800 Miles of Hiking Trails in the National Park.

Little River Trail marker in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the most popular things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hiking. There are more than 800 miles of hiking trails to explore in the national park, and these trails range from easy to difficult. Each trail offers a unique experience, with opportunities to see mountain views, waterfalls, forests, flowers, wildlife, and more. Hiking is one of the best ways to see the natural beauty of the mountains up close while immersed in the peacefulness of nature.

5. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Never Closes.

A fun fact about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you may not know is that the national park never actually closes. While some trails, roads, facilities, or sections of the national park may temporarily close due to maintenance, weather conditions, or wildlife activity, the national park as a whole doesn’t have a closing time. You can access the national park at any time of the day or night and throughout all seasons, weather permitting. Even if one section is temporarily closed, you can still access other areas of the national park.

More Outdoor Fun Near the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains are the perfect vacation destination, with beautiful sights to see and fun things to do. If you’re looking for more outdoor fun and ways to enjoy nature during your vacation, make sure you visit SkyLand Ranch. Our family-friendly attraction is located just a short drive to the national park and offers so many fun outdoor attractions, including a scenic chairlift, mountain coaster, animal encounters, scenic lookouts, and much more! Find out more about SkyLand Ranch and start planning your visit today!

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