The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in the Appalachian Mountains in the area of the U.S. states of North Carolina and Tennessee. It was established on 15 June 1934, and is now a World Heritage Site. The forest that covers the park, one of the oldest forests in the world and is the largest forest area in the eastern United States.
The park is between eight and ten million visitors to the most visited national park in the U.S., although the traffic is limited to the major roads. The 450 km road off the main roads and 1,400 kilometers of hiking trails in the park are relatively less crowded.
Before the arrival of European settlers in the late 18th century, the area was part of the homeland of the Cherokee Indians, the name " Shalonage ", "place of blue mist " gave the landscape because of the fog frequently occur. Through the Indian Removal Act signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1830, much of the Indians living there were relocated to other federal territories. The expulsion was by the English term " Trail of Tears" ( Trail of Tears ) is known. Some of the Cherokees remained in this region and were led by renegade warrior Tsali. They hid in the region that is now Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Their descendants still live in the Qualla Indian Reservation in the south of the park.
As settled the white settlers, a thriving timber industry developed in the area. Wood was a valuable resource and built in the late 19th century railway line Little River Railroad, which was for the transport of goods of great importance, the area helped to wealth and prosperity. In order to stop the clear-cutting of forests immense curb, locals banded together in the sequence and raise funds for the conservation of forests. The National Park Service supports the desire for the establishment of a National Park and the U.S. Congress approved the project in 1926. After additional donors were found to buy the land, could be started with the closure of farms and the resettlement of the residents. The official opening of the park took place on 15 June 1934. 1983, the park was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Flora and vegetation
The Great Smoky Mountains are among the oldest mountains in the world. The glaciers, which extended during the Ice Age in North America, ranged in their maximum expansion to the borders of the park. They formed thereby an interface between southern and northern flora. The heights in the park range from 250 to about 2000 meters above sea level. The strong variations in height, the vegetation in the park comprises much of the biodiversity of the East of the USA.
Five different types of forests with more than 130 different types of trees and 4000 other plant species dominate the Great Smoky Mountains. They represent all the major forest types of the eastern part of North America. At high altitudes over 1500 meters dominates the spruces and fir forest. In intermediate altitudes between 1000 and 1500 meters, mainly Nordic deciduous forest is found. A pine and oak forest grows in the dry areas of the park. Along the river beds forest strips with hemlock ( hemlock ) are to be found, and the low-lying valleys runs through a dense deciduous forest with linden, maple, horse chestnut and birch.
The animal population of the park is very diverse, there are more than 60 species of mammals, including about 1800 copies of the symbol animal of the Smoky Mountains, the Black Bear and, for example white-tailed deer, marmots, chipmunks, gray squirrels and numerous species of bats. The red wolf, an endangered species which is closely related to the actual wolf, also still alive in the northern areas of the park. The park is home to about 240 species of birds, 59 species of fish and about 80 species of reptiles and amphibians. Among them are more than 30 different salamander, which is why the Smoky Mountains are also called " Salamander Capital of the World ".
The highest point is 2025 meters high, Clingmans Dome, followed by the 2018 meter high Mount Guyot. Another attraction is the open air museum of Oconaluftee, which houses a collection of historic buildings from the region of the National Park.
- From Knoxville (Tennessee ) on: Interstate 40, Tennessee Highway 66, U.S. 441 to the entrance of Gatlinburg.
- From Asheville ( North Carolina) from: Interstate 40, U.S. 23, U.S. 441 to the south entrance near Cherokee.
Another route is via the 750 km long Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Also the Appalachian Trail through the Smoky Mountains.