Visit Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Encompassing over five hundred thousand acres, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the Eastern United States, the most visited national park in the United States, and easily accessed through the gateway entrance in Townsend, Tennessee; this making it the perfect backyard playground from your Townsend vacation location in The Peaceful Side of the Smokies.
The Park itself straddles the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the Southern Appalachian Mountain chain and includes acreage in both Tennessee and North Carolina. With elevations ranging from 847 to over 6,200 feet above sea level, the Park offers a diverse landscape, filled with nearly ten thousand species of flora and fauna.
Originally part of the homeland to the Cherokee Indians, many areas of the Park were settled by Europeans in the 18th and early 19th century. Logging operations began in the late 1900’s with the formation of the Little River Railroad, and timber was removed from remote locations via rail lines and the rivers. The old rail beds now serve as the foundation for many of the roads and some of the hiking trails in the park.
In an effort to preserve the pristine environment, a move was undertaken to form a park on these lands. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was chartered by the United States Congress in 1934 and dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940. It was the first national park whose land and other costs were paid for in part with federal funds; previous parks were funded wholly with state money or private funds. As a concession to displaced homesteaders upon formation of the park, there is no entrance fee to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
And while there are no occupied home-places now, historic homesteads still exist for visitors to enjoy in both Cades Cove (the most visited area of the GSMNP) and Elkmont in Tennessee, and Oconaluftee and the more remote Cataloochee in North Carolina.
In addition to historic sites, the park is home to 850 miles of hiking trails and unpaved roads, including seventy miles of the Appalachian Trail; horseback riding on limited trails; bicycling on roadways and closed-to-automobile-traffic cycling in Cades Cove part of each year; Mount LeConte, with an elevation of 6,593 feet (one of 16 mountains reaching over 6,000 feet within the park); scenic overviews and waterfalls; backcountry and developed campgrounds; over 700 miles of fishable waters bountiful with native Appalachian brook trout in addition to brown and rainbow trout (as well as many other species of fish), with fly fishing being very popular.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park awaits you. Make it your backyard playground on your next visit to Townsend/Walland, Tennessee, The Peaceful Side of the Smokies and Gateway to Cades Cove.