It Is No Wonder Why The Smoky Mountains Are One Of The Top Tourist Attractions In America

The Smoky Mountains is one reason why Pigeon Forge has become the tourist attraction that it is today. As the most visited national park in the United States, the Smoky Mountains receive over 9 million visitors a year. There is so much to see and do in the park including overlooks that give you a view of the beautiful mountain ranges, hiking trails, camping, fishing, historic sites and wildlife. There are five different forest types throughout the Smoky Mountains and over 4,000 plant species. Some sections of the park are actually classified as rain forests. The park totals over 500,000 acres in size.

Most visitors to the Smoky Mountains National Park are there for a one day visit. However, if you love the mountains and enjoy camping, there is no better place in the country to camp than the Smoky Mountains. The campgrounds in the park are primitive on purpose. There are ten campgrounds and all of them offer running water, flush toilets and fire grills. There are fees for staying at these campgrounds but they are low cost. There are no hookups available at these campgrounds.

Hiking is another enjoyable thing to do in the park. Not only does it give you an opportunity to see the the great outdoors but also is a great way to exercise. There are over 850 miles of hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains. The trails range from easy half hour walks to more difficult trips. Many provide beautiful scenery, historic landmarks and waterfalls. The Appalachian Trail runs 70 miles along the top ridge of the Smoky Mountains.

Wildlife viewing is excellent in the Smokies. Early morning and late evening are the best times to see wildlife. There are over 65 mammals living in the park with the red wolf and bear being the favorite of tourists. Coyote and Bobcats are the shy ones and their sightings are rare while the Deer are easily viewed in the park. Other animals that you will see are red and gray squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, raccoons, opossums, red and gray foxes, skunks, and bats. Elk, river otters, beavers, wild hogs and of course snakes also live in the Smoky Mountains.

There are over 230 species of birds in the Smoky Mountains and 110 that reproduce in the mountains. The only poisonous snakes in the Smoky Mountains are the Copperhead and Timbler Rattler. The most common non-poisonous snakes are black rat, garter, and the common water snake. Other reptiles include frogs, toads and salamanders. The Smokies 27 species of salamanders make this area the salamander capital of the world.

Fishing is another thing to do in the park. Anglers 13 and over need a valid fishing license to fish in the Smokies which needs to be purchased before visiting the park. The national park does not sell licenses. Fishing is allowed year round and there are over 40 species of fish including darters, dace, suckers, bass, shiners, and trout. Brook trout are the only trout native to the Smoky Mountains. Stop by a visitors center for fishing regulations.

The weather in the Smokies can change quickly. The climate is moderate but because of the higher elevations, you can experience changes in the weather quickly. Elevations in the Park range from 800 feet to 6,643 feet and the temperature can change from 10 20 degrees from the lower elevations to the higher ones. Also just because it is a beautiful day when you leave for the park, doesnt mean it will remain nice weather through your whole day. There is an average of 55 inches of precipitation a year in the lowlands compared to 85 inches of precipitation in the higher elevations of the Smokies. If you have wondered why the Smoky Mountains are Smoky it is a result of the precipitation and evaporation from the trees. The higher elevations of the Smokies are classified as rain forest.

If there is one reason why the Smoky Mountains should be classified as a national park it would be because of its plants. The vegetation is what makes these mountains so unique. Because of the many elevation levels, rainfall and temperature, these mountains provide a great habitat for over 1,600 different types of flowering plants, 100 types of trees and over 100 species of shrubs. The park is sometimes referred to as the Wildflower National Park. There are more types of flowering plants in the Smoky Mountains than any other park in the United States. And the beautiful Fall leaves in the national park are spectacular!

There is no charge to enter the Smoky Mountains National Park. Due to deed restrictions imposed when the park was established it was decided that entrance charges would never be allowed. There is limited food and supplies available in the park so it is recommended to pack a picnic and drinks and rest at one of the many picnic spots in the Smoky Mountains. Pets must be on leashes at all times and are not allowed on the hiking trails. Horseback riding and bike riding are also available in the Smokies.