15 Fun Facts About the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Over 520,000 acres make up the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park and for every countless sliver of beauty that can be found among the hills, there’s also an interesting fact or piece of history! We wanted to share 15 fun facts with you that may help you decide how to spend your time in the Smokies or that will just be fun to share with the family on your way into town!
1. Tennessee shares the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with our neighboring state of North Carolina. The fun part? The acreage is pretty much a 50/50 split! But of course… The Tennessee side, is the best side! Don’t believe us, just ask the elk that came to visit us in Gatlinburg from Oconaluftee in the summer of 2019!
2. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in America! With over 11 million visitors in 2018, we welcomed over 5 million more happy faces than the 2nd most visited national park, the Grand Canyon!
3. President Calvin Coolidge was the one to authorize the formation of the park and 8 years later, in 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established. On September 2, 1940 Frank D. Roosevelt stood at Newfound Gap and dedicated the park. Since that day, countless people from all over the world have hiked the trails, cruised the roads and enjoyed the peace and beauty of the mountains.
4. The formation of the park was the first ever to include purchasing property from private land owners.
5. It was also the first time that funds were contributed by every day citizens to help purchase the land that would make up what we know today as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
6. Thanks to Discover Life in America, a non-profit organization located in the Gatlinburg section of the park, the park currently has a tally of 20,203 different types of species in the park.
7. Photographers and writers helped to save the mountains! George Masa, a Japanese immigrant and photographer, along with local writer Horace Kephart and others worked to bring the beauty and magic of the mountains to the outsiders. However, with the stunning vistas they also captured the destruction of the logging companies. A balance of love for the natural gems of the Smokies and sadness of what was happening to them motivated others to protect and preserve over 500,000 acres of land.
8. You won’t find any moose or grizzly bears in the Smokies, but the hills are home to plenty of beautiful black bears as well as elk! The elk have so far only decided to become permanent residents on the North Carolina side of the park, but from time to time we do get a couple that like to vacation with us!
9. Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains and on the Appalachian Trail. Mount Guyot is the second highest and Mount LeConte is third… Well, until High Top is built up enough to take the second spot, but so far it’s been a pretty slow process! Curious about High Top? Climb LeConte and check it out!
10. Gray Wolves once lived in the park but were eradicated by the 1890’s. Now you’ll only find the coyotes roaming from time to time.
11. Known as the “Salamander Capital of the World” the park is home 30 species of salamanders! The largest salamander in the Smokies is the Hellbender. They can reach up to 29 inches in length and they have a nickname that the kids are sure to love… Snot Otter. Go ahead, share it with them! But also share with them that for the salamanders to thrive they need a clean and undisturbed home. Play in the streams, wade and even snorkel to get a glimpse of some of our favorite residents but please leave rocks in place and pack out all trash!
12. For Smokies resident Jack Huff not only climbed Mount LeConte over 2,000 times but he once carried his mother on his back to the top so that she could see a Smokies sunset from LeConte one more time. He was also the first person to drive a car over the mountains from Tennessee to Oconaluftee in North Carolina in 1930. How did he pull that off? They took the car wheels off and replaced them with rail wheels and used the railroad to make the journey!
13. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the countries biggest playgrounds and outdoor classrooms. The 520,000 acres that make up the most visited national park in the country are also filled with never-ending learning experiences, places to play, history, beauty that will inspire art, peace and adventure. A trip to the Smokies is one that you’ll not only never forget but that you’ll want to repeat time and time again.
14. There’s a reason to visit all year long! Regardless of the season, the month or even the day of the week you’ll always find amazing moments tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! The winter wonderland like beauty that the colder months bring, the stunning fall foliage that attracts visitors from all over the world, the carpets of wildflowers and baby animals that come out to play in the spring or the chance to find a tucked away swimming hole in the summertime. You’ll always find an adventure waiting for you in the Smokies!
15. Last but not least… The park sits right up against Gatlinburg! And, we’re lined up perfectly with both! If you’re heading to the Smokies and want to stay in a place where you can easily access the national park and walk to the best spots in town, then you’ll want to be our guest! Every guest room at our hotel comes with a private balcony that sits above a beautiful Smoky Mountain stream and we have a room to fit the needs of every guest! You can enjoy breakfast on us each morning, warm cookies every afternoon and all of Our Amenities during your stay. Booking directly with us will give you a few extra perks that you’re sure to love and we can’t wait to treat you as family from the moment you step into our doors until you return for a follow up trip!
To plan your trip to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Gatlinburg, click the link below!
Be our guest at the Old Creek Lodge in downtown Gatlinburg, TN!