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Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established by as a national park by Congress in 1934 and is the largest and the most popular and busiest national park in the eastern United States. Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers 800 square miles with over 500,000 acres of wilderness in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers panoramic vistas with endless mountains and views, thick forests and tumbling pristine mountain streams like those discovered by the early inhabitants, the Cherokee Indians and then the settlers. You can get off the beaten path to explore and drive on old gravel roads to old homesteads and remains of old structures from early settlers in the North Carolina Mountains. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its abundant and sometimes rare plant and animal life, the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, and the remains of Appalachian Mountain life and culture of days gone by. You can get an up close view of what life used to be like in days goen by.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 14,000 different species of flora and fauna. From March to September many of these species are breathtaking in the spectacular display of their floral beauty. Photographers, plant lovers and beauty seekers alike visit the North Carolina Mountains during these months to admire this annual pageantry of nature.
EXPLORE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Cataloochee used to be the largest settlement in the Smoky Mountains. Drive to Cataloochee to view the elk herd that successfully was introduced back into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Park in 2001. Unlike Cades Cove, Cataloochee is quiet minus the traffic jams but you'll have every opportunity to enjoy the wildlife and Smoky mountains beauty of the valley with the surrounding mountains. The elk herd grazes in the fields and can be seen most days throughout the year.
Cades Cove located on the Gatlinburg side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and gives visitors a great opportunity to view and enjoy the wildlife, beauty, history and culture of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove is made up of open fields and is completely surrounded by forests and hidden in the middle of the mountains.
Take a step back to pioneer life and catch a glimpse of what early settlement life was like in this preserved thriving early settlement of the Smoky Mountains as preserved in Cades Cove by the the National Park Service. Cades Cove has several historic buildings dating to the nineteenth century, including the Peter Cable Grist Mill, The Becky Cable House, 3 churches, barns, and pioneer log cabins. The one way 11 mile long Cades Cove Loop Road that meanders through the meadowlands and forests of Cades Cove is a popular drive for park visitors. Wildlife like deer and bears can be seen on the Cades Cove Road. The visitors center located in Cades Cove has many books and maps to help you interpret all that you view in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A drive through Cades Cove during any season will reward you with wildlife sightings with deer ,bears and wild turkeys. Most visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are delighted by the frequent wildlife sightings.
Clingmans Dome at 6643 feet in elevation is the highest peak in the Smokies, the highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the highest peak in Tennessee just over the North Carolina state border and the second highest peak east of the Mississippi River. A forest of spruce and fir trees covers the top of the mountain. Visitors can walk a .5 mile paved pathway to the 54-foot tall observation tower where visitors can view the breathtaking, 360-degree panoramic vista of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park surrounding Clingmans Dome. Even in the summer, it may be chilly due to the high elevation of the mountain.
Clingmans Dome can be reached by driving up a 7 mile paved road. From a parking lot there is an additional paved, short 1/2 walking trail that leads to the summit. The summit features an observation platform reached by a long spiral ramp.
Eerie fog frequently obscures the summit of Clingman's Dome, hiding some views on one side of the mountains while allowing a panorama in other directions to be visible.
The complete view from Clingman's Dome is often completely hidden by fog.
At the Cherokee North Carolina entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mingus Mill is a large water-powered mill that is still in operation that grinds corn into corn meal and flour with 19th century equipment. From mid-April through October, visitors can view operations at the corn mill and can buy cornmeal and flour.
Newfound Gap is a mountain pass through which the 35 mile long main north-south road in the park runs. The pass itself reaches an altitude of 5,048 feet.
Newfound Gap is the place where Franklin Roosevelt, on Labor Day in 1940, dedicated the new Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Views at Newfound Gap are incredible. In the winter, opportunities to see snow are plentiful at this elevation.
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