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The Smoky Mountains looking blue in a scenic photo.

9 Things You Will Only Find When You Visit the Smoky Mountain Area

We know how much you love the Smoky Mountains, but do you know there’s a few things in and around the Smoky Mountains that you can’t find anywhere else? Here’s a few things that make the Smoky Mountain area so special:

1. The Signature “Haze” over the Mountains

It’s no hidden secret that the Smoky Mountains are known for the smoky haze that hovers over the mountaintops. The “smoke” is formed from the rainfall and evaporation, creating a beautiful mist over the mountains.

For more information, find out What Makes the Smoky Mountains Smoky.

2. Free Entry – No Fees or Passes

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 100% free to visit. You won’t find any toll roads or entry costs when you visit our national park. In fact, it’s the only national park in the United States without an entry fee.

3. The Largest Protected Bear Habitat in the EastA black bear in the Smoky Mountains feeding in a berry patch.

There’s not many places in the United States where you’ll find approximately 1,500 protected black bears. That’s 2 bears per square mile in the park!

In addition to bears, you’ll find about 200 species of birds, 65 species of mammals, 67 native fish species and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians.

4. So Many Salamanders!

Even though you can find salamanders in many places, there’s nowhere else in the country that you’ll find this many salamanders.The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 30 different species of salamanders. The national park is known as the “Salamander Capital of the World” with over 700 miles of streams and dense forests that create the best habitat for salamanders to thrive. Click here for a few more facts you probably don’t know about Smoky Mountain salamanders!

5. Flowers You’ll Only Find in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Believe it or not, the Rugel’s Ragwort flower only appears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a rare species in Tennessee and is mostly found in the upper elevations of the park.

6. Hundreds of Species of Trees

Most national parks have fewer than 20 native species of trees, but the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to over 100 different species of trees in the park! That’s more species of trees than in all of northern Europe!

7. Synchronous Fireflies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to the only synchronous fireflies in the United Fireflies lighting up at the event in the Smoky MountainsStates. These synchronous fireflies are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in the national park.

The synchronous fireflies light show takes place only once a year and timing is everything! They actually only synchronize during their mating season which lasts for about 2 weeks a year, typically somewhere between the end of May to mid-June. Each year, park officials and researchers will estimate the peak times to see the fireflies.

As soon as we have the latest information about seeing the synchronous fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains, we’ll update our post about the Synchronous Elkmont Fireflies Event.

8. Dolly Parton Statue

There’s only one place you can find a statue of Dolly Parton – her Smoky Mountain hometown of Sevierville, TN. Artist Jim Gray created the bronze sculpture of Dolly Parton and it’s a statue that many people visit during their vacation!

9. Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

Shakers shaped like lobsters and crabs at the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg.Gatlinburg’s Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is one-of-a-kind! You won’t find anything else like this in the United States. This museum has over 20,000 pairs of different salt and pepper shakers and 1,500 pepper mills … and the collection continues to grow! You’ll find shakers of all shapes and sizes featuring historical figures, animals, cars, houses, food and more. They even have gold and silver salt and pepper shakers that are worth thousands of dollars. It’s an interesting museum, and definitely one worth visiting!

The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is located in the Winery Square shopping area in Gatlinburg. Admission is only $3 per person and children 12 and under are free. Plus, when you pay the $3 admission, it can be used toward any purchase in the gift shop…now, that’s a deal!

Click here for all the details about the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum and the story of how it got started.

Tell Us Your Thoughts

What are your favorite things about the Smoky Mountain area? Tell us in the comments below!