If you love visiting the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll definitely love learning more about them! There is so much information you may not know about the national park, and we want to share some of it with you! Here are the top 5 things you may not know about the Great Smoky Mountains:
1. There are multiple entrances.
Most people enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through the Sugarlands entrance near Gatlinburg. Since so many people use this entrance, it is usually congested. Another way to enter the national park is through Townsend, Tennessee on TN 73. This road is about 25 miles west of Gatlinburg and is definitely a scenic route. There’s also an entrance through Wears Valley. This road is even more scenic than Townsend, really giving you a feel of how people live remotely in the area. This is probably the less-used entrance, and it gives you great access to Newfound Gap and Cades Cove.
2. Almost 100 historic structures have been preserved.
People lived in the Great Smoky Mountains until it became a national park in the 1930s. Many structures that were used by early pioneers to people who lived in the park more recently have been maintained so visitors could see how people lived back in the day. Most of these buildings can be found in Cades Cove, along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and places in North Carolina. The National Park Service ensures these buildings are maintained and restored properly so visitors can enjoy them for many years to come.
3. Newfound Gap Road helped the park remain fee free.
If you’ve ever driven on Newfound Gap Road, you know how beautiful the area is and why people come from all over the world to visit the Smokies. You also probably know you don’t have to pay an entrance fee to enter the national park. But did you know that Newfound Gap contributed to the park being free for visitors? The government approached Tennessee and North Carolina because they wanted a road that went through the national park. North Carolina deeded its part of the road over, but Tennessee negotiated and said the only way they would deed it over to the government was if they never imposed fees. That’s why you can visit the Smokies for free!
4. It is the only national park to be created using private funds.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of the only national parks in the United States to be created using private funds. The NPS wanted to have a national park in the southeastern United States but didn’t have the proper funding to make it happen. Many local residents donated their land, and John D. Rockefeller donated about $5 million to help create the national park.
5. Flowers contributed to the area becoming a national park.
Another little known fact about the Great Smoky Mountains is that flowers helped contribute to it becoming a national park! Like we said before, the NPS wanted a national park in the southeastern part of the country, but they didn’t know where. They sent a national committee to scout locations for a national park. A member of the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association showed the committee members around the area, and they took them to the top of Gregory Bald where flame azaleas grew. One of the members was a botanist, and this was one of his favorite shrubs. The botanist claimed these plants reached their maximum development here more than anywhere else in the country he had seen, and that in and of itself was a reason why this area should be a national park.
These are just a few interesting things you may not have known about the Great Smoky Mountains. We know you probably want to visit the national park, but do you know what else you’re going to do when you stay with us? Check out these free attraction tickets you’ll have access to when you book with us!