We consider the Great Smoky Mountains a little piece of heaven for both the reasons everyone recognizes—its beauty, bounty and bears—as well as for some of its little known surprises. Here are a few of things you may not have know about the Smokies:
1. The Great Smoky Mountains are part of an International Biosphere Reserve with the largest stand of old growth forest east of the Mississippi River as well as a part of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve.
2. The Great Smoky Mountains are known as the “Salamander Capital of the World” because they are home to the most diverse population of salamanders outside of the tropics. Five of the world’s nine families of salamanders are found in the range, consisting of up to thirty-one species.
3. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with over nine million visitors per year, is the most-visited National Park in the United States. That is twice the number of people that visit the Grand Canyon each year.
4. The Great Smoky Mountains are also home to the densest black bear population in the Eastern United States. Click here to see a black bear in a tree outside one of ERA In The Smokies‘ rental cabins.
5. “Christy,” the TV movie series that starred Kellie Martin and Tyne Daly, was based on life in Cades Cove as written in the book by Catherine Marshall. Many of the structures depicted in the movies are among the 78 historic structures, including grist mills, churches, schools, barns, and the homes of early settlers, preserved in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
6. The highest point in the Smokies is Clingmans Dome, which rises to an elevation of 6,643 feet, and Mount Le Conte is the tallest (i.e., from immediate base to summit) mountain in the range, rising 5,301 feet (1,616 m) from its base in Gatlinburg to its 6,593-foot (2,010 m) summit. Climbing to the observation tower atop Clingmans Dome is one of the favorite activities in which many visitors participate.
7. The name “Smoky” in Smoky Mountains comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog, which is most common in the morning and after rainfall, is the result of warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico cooling rapidly in the higher elevations of Southern Appalachia. Check out the weather in the Smokies.
8. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an average precipitation of 55 inches (1,400 mm) per year in the valleys to 85 inches (2,200 mm) per year on the peaks. This is more annual rainfall than anywhere in the United States outside the Pacific Northwest and parts of Alaska.
9. About 100 native tree species make their home in Great Smoky Mountains—more than in all of northern Europe. The National Park also contains one of the largest blocks of old-growth temperate deciduous forest in North America.
10. The Great Smoky Mountains are the best place on earth. Not unbiased fact? You can’t prove different to us. We love the Smokies!