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The Smoky Mountains are known for their timeless beauty and rich history, but what if we were to tell you that there are a few facts about the park as unbelievable as its scenic views? Don’t believe us? Check out a few of the incredible facts about the national park we found below!
1. The Smoky Mountains are between 200 and 300 million years old
We all know that the national park was founded in 1934, but can you believe the mountains themselves are hundreds of millions of years old? This kind of makes you rethink how old you think dial up internet is, doesn’t it?
2. There are over 30 species of salamanders that call the Great Smoky Mountains National Park home
They don’t call the Smoky Mountains the Salamander Capital for nothing. Guests to the park have a chance of seeing some species that can reach up to 29 inches in length. To put that into perspective, that’s longer than two foot-long hot dogs from Fannie Farkle’s in Gatlinburg.
3. There is an average of two bears for every square mile in the national park
Although it is unlikely that you will see a black bear during your trip to the Smoky Mountains, it is worth noting that their presence is quite substantial.
4. The Smoky Mountains average 6 feet of snow every year
Even with how unseasonably cold this past winter was, typically when visitors think of the Smoky Mountains they don’t think of cold and snow. That being said, the higher elevations of the national park have been known to collect up to 6 feet of snow annually.
5. There are more species of trees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park than in Northern Europe
Yes, you read that correctly. The Great Smoky Mountains are home to more than 100 different types of species of trees.
6. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s birthday is June 15
As mentioned earlier, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was founded in 1934. Often times fans of the park remember the year but not the date. By marking the national park’s birthday on your calendar, you can easily create another reason you and your family need to plan a trip to the area — to celebrate!
7. There are 5 different types of forests in the park
The 100 different species we mentioned before are broken into five different types of forests. The first type that includes approximately 80% of the park is the Cove Hardwood Forest. This forest is found in sheltered valleys with deep rich soils. The other four types include the Spruce-fir Forest, the Northern Hardwood Forests, Hemlock Forest and Pine-and-Oak Forests. Click here to learn more about the different types of forests in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
8. The Smoky Mountains are within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population
This is one of the more common facts about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it is still worth noting because it helps the park achieve its “Most Popular National Park” title year after year.
9. The equivalent to the miles of trails and unpaved roads in the park is the distance between Boston and Detroit
Before you break out a map, we’ll tell you, the distance is 850 miles. Among these trails, guests will find the 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail that run through the park, as well as popular hikes including Abrams Falls, Clingmans Dome and Andrews Bald.
10. A third of the trees in the park are over 100 years old
Similar to the age of the mountains, it is quite impressive to note the age of the natural wonders that call the Great Smoky Mountains home.
11. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is almost the same size as Rhode Island
Rhode Island is a total of 1,212 square miles. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a little over 800. When looking at the numbers this might seem like a lot, but it only equates to about the size of Sevier County (430 square miles) in terms of difference.
12. The first settler to the Smoky Mountains was a woman
Though Williams Ogle is credited for building the first ever “home” in the area, it was actually his wife Martha Jane Huskey Ogle that can be considered the first settler. Martha, along with her children, moved into the cabin that William built for her after her husband passed away.
13. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the only park to be created using private funds
In 1934, the National Park Service knew they wanted a preserved area in the eastern part of the country, but they did not have the funds to purchase the land. It was with the help of locals and a substantial donation by John D. Rockefeller to the tune of $5 million dollars that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created.
Want to learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including exciting hiking trails, horseback riding stables, and fishing spots? Be sure to check out our Great Smoky Mountains National Park page on our website. There, visitors will find everything they want to know about our favorite national park!