Great Smoky Mountains National Park Locator Map

Fast Facts

Total Area
521,495 acres
Annual Visitation
9,685,829 in 2012 (view all years)
Creation Date
June 15, 1934
Entrance Fee
Time Zone
Lowest Elevation
840 feet at Abrams Creek
Highest Elevation
6,643 feet at Clingman's Dome
Lowest Average Temp
25F in January
Record Low Temp
-18F in 1985
Highest Average Temp
85F in July
Record High Temp
106F in 1936
Our Last Visit
October 2013

Park Contact Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park HQ Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Info at (865) 436-1200
Fax to (865) 436-1220

Park Creation Timeline

The park is officially established on June 15, 1934, although it was authorized back in 1926. The government did not want to spend much money on it, so it took time for private citizens, notably John D. Rockefeller Jr, who contributed $5 million to the government's $2 million. People from Tennessee and North Carolina helped assemble the land needed.
International Biosphere Reserve status is given to the park by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
The park is named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
The park becomes a part of the larger Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve.

Animals and Plants

The most common large mammals are white-tailed deer and black bears. The bears are the parks signature species, and they occur in greater concentration here than anywhere else in North America. Elk were recently reintroduced here, and are mainly concentrated in Cataloochee Cove. Dozens of smaller species abound.
Reptiles include 6 species of turtle, many lizards and snakes, of which only 2 are venomous, the copperhead and timber rattlesnake. Both are very uncommonly seen. The park is known as the Salamander Capital of the World, with an astounding 30 species.
240 species of birds have been observed. 60 species are permanent residents. Nearly 120 species breed in the park, including 52 species from the neo-tropics. The massive variety of all life forms in the park would require an entire dedicated site to do justice to.
Plants are the defining point of the park. Variations in elevation, rainfall, temperature, and geology provide ideal habitat for over 1,600 species of flowering plants, including 100 native tree species and over 100 native shrub species. Another 450 species of non-flowering plants occupy the park as well. The color change of the foliage in October is world-famous, and draws more visitors to the park in one month than all but a handful of parks receive annually.

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