5 Surprising Facts about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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When people visit the Smoky Mountains, one of the things at the top of their list of things to do is to visit the national park. This is not surprising due to the fact of all there is to see and do there. Within one trip, you can take in the beauty of the mountains, see some wildlife, explore historical buildings, and so much more! Before you set out to explore the area for yourself, take a look at these 5 surprising facts about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
1. Most Visited National Park in the United States
If you have ever been to the national park, you probably understand why it is so popular. However, did you know that it is the most visited national park in all of the United States? In addition to all the amazing things you can do, there are a couple of other reasons why the park is visited more than any other around the country. First of all, nearly 60 percent of the United States can easily drive to the national park in a day. Also, there isn’t an entrance fee to get into the park, making it more affordable for guests who want to experience incredible nature!
2. Over 20,000 Species of Animals
When people visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, they know there is a possibility of seeing incredible wildlife. However, did you know that there are over 20,000 different species of animals that call the national park home? At last count, there were approximately 20,203 different creatures wandering, or flying, throughout the park. The nonprofit group Discover Life in America, in help with the National Park Service, are the ones that are in charge of tracking the new animals that are discovered. Although that is the number that have been seen so far, there are believed to be an additional 80,000 to 100,000 species that haven’t been accounted for yet.
3. Salamander Capital of the World
While we are on the topic of animals, let’s discuss one of the most interesting creatures that live in the Smokies, the salamander. Did you know there are more than 30 different species of salamanders living in the mountains? This is why the Smoky Mountains have popularly been named the salamander capital of the world. There is no other place where you can find this many types of salamanders living in one area. They love the Smokies because there are plenty of damp and dark places where they can hide! A couple of the most popular places you can find salamanders in the Smokies are creeks and waterfalls.
4. Origin of the Fog
As you begin to plan your visit, you may wonder why this area is called the Smoky Mountains. However, once you arrive, you will figure it out quite quickly. In the higher elevations, you can usually find a thin layer of fog lingering among the trees, which is where the name Smoky Mountains began. You may be surprised at what actually causes this smoky look. Many people believe it has something to do with the moisture in the air, but you may be surprised to know it is actually caused by the plants! In addition to giving off oxygen, much of the vegetation releases volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These compounds have a high vapor pressure, meaning they easily cause vapor, or fog!
5. Lucky Number 1,500
One of the most interesting numbers that is connected to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 1,500. One of the reasons is because of what was just mentioned above. There are estimated to be 1,500 different types of flowering plants in the Smokies. Also, this is the same number of black bears that biologists believe live inside the national park. Although these two numbers are the same, it is a safe bet you will see more flowers on your visit to the Smoky Mountains than you will black bears. However, there is a good chance you will be lucky enough to see a bear or two wandering around as well, so keep your eyes peeled and the cameras ready!
Now that you know some surprising facts about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, be sure to learn more about the area before you make your next trip to see the beauty! We look forward to seeing you soon!