Great weather and wonderful scenery combined to produce a record visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in September, and the park seems on its way to a record turnout for the year.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A poor year for their traditional foods have black bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park roaming far and wide, leading park officials to remind visitors to keep their distance from bears and to urge folks in communities surrounding the park to keep their garbage, pet food, and bird seed out of the reach of bears.
Predicting the winter movements of semi-migratory birds can be tricky business. Sometimes birds move south because food has become scarce in the north, as was the case with Pine Siskins last winter. Other times, an abundance of food creates a hyper-successful breeding season that results in overpopulation and migration south.
Recognizing its incredible diversity of stream life and years of efforts to conserve that diversity, the Little Tennessee River basin, which includes the Abrams Creek drainage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has been designated the nation’s first Native Fish Conservation Area.
Few of us with roots in the 1960s can imagine the world of environmental writing without Michael Frome. Actually, it was my mother who first discovered his articles following our trip west in 1959. From our home in Binghamton, New York, she had driven my brother August and me 10,000 miles, visiting national parks the entire way. After spending three days each at Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon, we thought we had seen it all. It little occurred to us, jockeying among the crowds of other auto “campers,” that an even greater, untouched wilderness lay beyond the pullouts, roads, and parking lots. That discovery awaited the writings of Michael Frome.
If “October” and “travel” are in the same story, odds are good that it’s an article about the best places to see fall foliage. Of course, to those of us with birds perpetually on the brain, October is the conclusion of fall migrant season. With that in mind, I got to wondering about the best national park to maximize migrant-watching and leaf-peeping in one trip.
Visitors come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for many reasons. They want to hike the more than 70 miles of the rugged Appalachian Trail that meander through the park, to camp in its dense forests, to cool off in one of its many streams, or to take a leisurely drive along the scenic Newfound Gap Road that crosses the heart of the park to connect Tennessee with North Carolina. Regardless of the reason, they come—in droves. Every year, 8-10 million people travel to the Smokies, making it the most-visited national park in the country.
Throughout the fall there are many reasons to visit your national parks. Here’s a look at some of those excuses to hit the road...if you really need one! For more details on a specific event, check the individual park’s website.
An area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been closed to the public through next March to ease the stresses on hibernating bats.
Fewer than 12 months separate the National Park Service's 99th birthday and its 100th. What happens over the course of the next year will go a far way to determining if it will be a happy birthday or not.