5 Fun Facts About the Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains may be a US national park, but the world appreciates the mountain grandeur as well. The park was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. That’s just fact that many people don’t know about the park. Here are five more!
Some of the children who helped buy the park still live in the area, next to the beautiful land they helped preserve for their children and grandchildren. They preserved it for you too! The Smokies are a year-round destination and the adjacent towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer many lodging options for couples, families, and groups.
1. The Smoky Haze Comes from Plants Breathing
The mountains are covered with trees, bushes, and over 1600 different varieties of flowering plants. They’re packed so tightly together that the water and hydrocarbons plants give off create the filmy, smoky haze that blankets the hills.
2. Most of Us Live Just a Day Away
Almost two-thirds of the US population lives within a day’s drive of the park, helping to make it America’s most-visited park. It hosts over 9 million visitors a year – and as many as 60,000 people a day during summer and leaf season.
3. But 95% of the Park Isn’t Crowded
Four-fifths of visitors to the park never leave their cars or get farther than a Visitor’s Center. That’s a terrible shame, because many beautiful waterfalls and overlooks a just a short trail walk from the parking lot. Some trails are even paved.
4. Part of the Mountain Range Is Still In Europe
Millions of years ago, the Appalachian Mountains were part of the Caledonian mountain chain in modern-day Scotland. Many Scottish immigrants settled in the Appalachian Mountain region because the typography reminded them of home and the area still contains remnants of the Highland culture.
5. Schoolkids Helped Buy the Land For the Park
Federal law prevented the government from spending money to acquire national park land, so local groups in Tennessee and North Carolina raised millions to help purchase the land. Much of the money came in the form of large donations from wealthy philanthropists, but schoolchildren chipped in as well, donating their pennies.
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