Plan A Vacation At America’s Most Visited National Park
By Bennie McCann © 2008, All Rights Reserved

As an extension of the southern Appalachian Mountains, you'll find over 800 square miles that cover the North Carolina and Tennessee border known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated this national park on September 2, 1940, “for the permanent enjoyment of the people.”

Known throughout the world for its diverse array of plant and animal life, there have been over 10,000 species documented in the Park. According to the National Park Service of the U. S. Department of the Interior, “The Park is home to more than 200 species of birds, 66 types of mammals, 50 native fish species, 39 varieties of reptiles, and 43 species of amphibians.” While the vast array of plants and animals is exciting to see, they are only a small portion of what makes this Park a national treasure.

Fall Colors Like You've Never Seen Them Before

As October approaches, the leaves in the upper elevations begin to change colors. The mid and lower elevations usually reach their peak colors around the middle of October and the beginning of November. It’s at this point that thousands of people journey to the Smoky Mountains to view the breathtaking beauty of the fall foliage. The large variety of trees is one reason you’ll find such magnificent colors here. Vivid shades of emerald green, shimmering gold, deep burgundy and dazzling orange seem to jump out from every direction. Whether you walk or travel by car, bike or horse, autumn in the Smoky Mountains is a sight to behold.

Explore the Trails

Hiking is one of the best ways to see everything the Park has to offer. There are 150 official trails in the Park that are available year round. These trails range from short and simple for the novice, to longer and quite strenuous for the more experienced. Water and good shoes are a must for any hiker, but make sure you bring your camera as well. There are ample photo opportunities as you make your way along the paths. Encounters will include magnificent waterfalls, intriguing historic buildings, amazing wildlife and beautiful scenery. This truly is a nature lover's paradise.

Reel In the Big One

While no hunting is allowed in the Park, fishing is a popular activity and is allowed year round. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. There are 2,115 miles of streams that are home to native brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, small mouth bass and rock bass to name a few. You’ll need a valid North Carolina or Tennessee license or permit in order to fish in the Park. These are not available for purchase in the Park, but can be found in neighboring towns or online.

It doesn’t matter what season you choose, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to visit. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon, or make plans to stay for several days. With no admission fee, and so much to see and do, it’s easy to understand why this is America’s most visited national park.

Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Gatlinburg rental cabins. Visit the main website to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.