Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles Tennessee and North Carolina.
Photograph by iStock, Dean_Fikar
Visitors to the park must follow rules and take precautions to ensure that they, and the bears there, remain safe.
Photograph by cchoc, iStock Photo
The park’s peaks can rise more than 5,000 feet high.
Photograph by Robert Philip, Dreamstime
Red wolves, a rare wolf species, live at Great Smoky National Park.
Photograph by iStock, JohnPitcher
This park covers more than 500,000 acres of land.
Photograph by Carol R Montoya, Dreamstime
Click the full-screen arrows in the upper right to read the captions!
A small black bear scampers up a tree and settles on a large branch, gazing at the thick, misty forest surrounding it. The bear lives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles North Carolina and Tennessee. With roughly 1,500 resident black bears, the area has been dubbed by some as “black bear country.” The bears are just one of the features that make this place a VIP—that is, a very important park!
ANIMALS ALL AROUND
Established in 1934, the 521,896-acre park covers most of the Great Smoky Mountain range. The range was named for the smoke-like fog that hangs over its forested peaks. In addition to black bears, the region is home to over 60 mammal species, some 200 varieties of birds, and around 80 kinds of reptiles and amphibians. Types of fireflies that time their flashes so they light up in unison also live here.
When Great Smoky Mountains National Park was founded, people who had been living in the area moved away. But many of their log cabins, some of which were built more than 200 years ago, remain. And people, of course, continue to visit the park. In fact it’s the most visited national park in the United States, welcoming up to ten million tourists every year. This park definitely knows how to win fans!
Text by Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh