Great Smoky Mountains National Park Gets First Female Chief Ranger

sunset in the smoky mountains
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For the first time in its 85-year history, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will have a female chief ranger! Lisa Hendy, a Tennessee native, steps into her role as chief ranger of the park in April. We have all the details on the new chief ranger of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

First Female Chief Ranger of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A bridge over a stream in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Beginning in April, Lisa Hendy will be the chief ranger of the most visited national park! Hendy has experience working at some of the most popular national parks, like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. The 26-year veteran of the National Park Service most recently served as the chief ranger at Big Bend National Park in Texas. Hendy grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and her first backcountry experiences were in the Smoky Mountains. She said she’s looking forward to “returning home.” In her new role, Hendy is responsible for overseeing the park’s law enforcement division, wildland fire operations, backcountry operations, and emergency communications center. She will manage about 240 permanent employees and more than 80 seasonal employees.

In 2007, Hendy received an Intermountain Region Exemplary Service Award for life-saving efforts in the Grand Canyon National Park, and in 2011, she received the Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award, which is one of the highest accolades a park ranger can receive. Her leadership and experience are just two of the many qualities that make her a great fit for the role.

Former Chief Ranger of the National Park

sign in the Great Smoky Mountains National ParklLisa Hendy is replacing Steve Kloster, who retired as chief ranger last year. Before retiring, Kloster served 35 great years in the National Park Service. He was the chief ranger of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from 2015 up until May of 2018. Kloster began working for the national park as a park ranger in 1988 before stepping into the positions of backcountry ranger and Cosby area supervisor at different park locations. During his time as chief ranger, he helped rescue hundreds of people from the park.

According to Smokies Superintendent Cassius Cash, Hendy has demonstrated incredible leadership in managing law enforcement, fire, and search and rescue operations at some of the nation’s busiest parks, which makes her a great replacement for Steve Kloster.

What to Do at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

sunrise in Cades CoveIt’s no surprise that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park. From hiking to wildlife viewing, there are so many activities for visitors to enjoy. The park is home to more than 850 miles of hiking trails, along which you can see cascading waterfalls and other gorgeous views. You can also go fishing in 2,900 miles of streams, enjoy a picnic, go for a scenic drive, or spend the night camping underneath the stars! One of the most popular activities in the park is wildlife viewing. When you visit, keep an eye out for black bears, white-tailed deer, turkey, and more. There is no better way to experience the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains than by spending a day in the national park!

Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and start planning your visit today.


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