7 Basic Facts About the Smoky Mountains That Might Surprise You

Black and white photo of an old homestead on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountains have a history, but do you know it’s a history that dates back nearly 300 million years? How many of these interesting facts about the Smoky Mountains have you heard before? Take a look:

  1. The Smoky Mountains National Park is the Salamander Capital of the World

Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains are officially titled the “Salamander Capital of the World”? Not just in Tennessee — the entire world!

The salamanders just one group among 21,000 different living species that are friendly neighbors in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is home to 200 different types of birds, 67 mammal breeds, 80 types of A baby orange Eastern newt standing on branches and leaves in the Smoky Mountainsamphibians and reptiles, 67 types of fish, and a whopping 17,000 types of insects.

To learn more, check out these 6 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Smoky Mountain Salamanders.

  1. You Can Find Hundreds of Trees in the National Park

Definitely one of our favorite facts about the Smoky Mountains is: there are over 100 different species of trees in the park! Unlike most national parks, we have over 100 native trees in the Great Smoky Mountains. Most national parks have fewer than 20 native trees!

  1. The National Park Dates Back Over 200 Million Years

The Smoky Mountains are estimated to be between 200 and 300 millions years old, making them one of these oldest mountain ranges on earth. Did you know that glaciers affected the Great Smoky Mountains’ formation? During the last Ice Age, the glaciers covered most of North America, but didn’t reach the Smoky Mountains. Due to that, plants and animals sought out our Smoky Mountains as a refuge and a place to ‘start over.’

  1. Sunshine over the Smoky Mountains in the morningTemperatures Never Hit Above 80 Degrees

Love hiking but could leave the heat? There has never been a recorded temperature above 80 degrees on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s beautiful Mount LeConte.

You can keep up with the latest temperatures for your visit by checking out our most recent Smoky Mountain weather video.

  1. There’s Over 800 Miles of Trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkSunny view from the Cades Cove Road

It’s time to dust off the walking shoes. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s hiking trails span more than 800 square miles. There’s many different types of trails, so take a look at some of these when you’re planning your hiking adventure in the Smoky Mountains:

  1. The National Park is Absolutely Free for All Visitors

Free for all! It doesn’t cost a thing to come into the park. This is a rarity among the national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the first park to ever be developed with federal government money. Other monetary contributors were North Carolina and Tennessee residents as Car driving on a road through the Smoky Mountainswell as John D. Rockefeller, Jr. himself. It was declared at creation that there would never be a fee or toll to enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  1. The Great Smoky Mountains Have a Nickname

It may be obvious that the Smoky Mountains are so called because they are, well, smoky. But many don’t know that the nickname dates back to the time when the area was settled by the Cherokees. They called the mountains “Shaconage,” meaning “place of the blue smoke.”

For more interesting facts about the Smoky Mountains, take a look at these 13 Facts About the Smoky Mountains You Won’t Believe.

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  • Gary Mustain

    Over 800 Square miles of trails? REALLY? There are 800 MILES of trails, not 800 square miles of trails. The Whole park barely covers 800 square miles (816.28)!

  • Terry

    It’ not FREE to backpackers, they have to pay!

  • Monica Maynard

    I would love to win this trip I haven’t been able to go the smokies since my son was 10 and he is 32 years old.