You may know a lot about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but there are plenty of things we bet you didn’t know! We want to share some cool, obscure facts you may have never heard about the national park! Check out these 5 things you probably didn’t know about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
1. Unofficial Salamander Capital of the World
The Smokies are known as the unofficial salamander capital of the world! More species of salamanders live in the national park than anywhere else. On any day of the year, there are more salamanders in the park than people! Over 30 species of salamanders live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some of the ones you could see include spotted, Eastern hellbender, and mudpuppy. You’re likely to find these creates in and around streams, under leaves, and under rocks.
2. Flowers Helped It Become a National Park
Before the national park was established, the US government wanted a national park somewhere in the southeast since there were so many in the west. A national committee scouted locations across the east to see where a national park should go. As they were looking at land in what is now the national park, members of the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association took the committee members to the top of Gregory Bald. One of the members was a botanist, and he made a remark about the flame azalea they saw while at the bald, saying this was the maximum development of any flame azalea he had seen before. This was enough of a highlight to help the national park be established.
3. Cades Cove was Almost a Marina
Cades Cove is the most popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Did you know it was almost a marina instead of the beautiful rolling fields it’s known for? In the 1930s, the land was considered plain farmland without any attraction potential. National parks in the west were known for their lakes, and people assumed no one would want to come see empty land, but they would come for a lake. Luckily, environmentalists fought the proposal for a dam, and Cades Cove stayed how we know it to be today!
4. Newfound Gap is the Reason There’s No Fee
Before the area was a national park, North Carolina and Tennessee joined together to build a road from one state to the other, calling it Newfound Gap Road. Newfound Gap connects Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina. The federal government approached the two states to procure the road, and North Carolina handed over their deed. Tennessee, however, made a deal: no fee or toll would ever be imposed on people traveling on the road. The byproduct of this agreement was no entrance fee to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
5. Smokiness is Created by Plants
You probably don’t know why the Smokies are called the Smoky Mountains. The Cherokee considered the mountains sacred and called them “land of the blue smoke.” Do you know why the smoke forms on the mountains? It’s actually because of the vegetation! They release carbon dioxide as well as volatile organic compounds. These VOCs, in high concentrations, create the fog we see!
Now you know some pretty cool things about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Want to get into the park and have some fun? Start planning a ziplining adventure for the next time you’re in the Smoky Mountains!