Great Smoky Mountains
North Carolina / Tennessee
A Wildlands Sanctuary
The Great Smoky Mountains, the majestic climax of the Appalachian Highlands are a wildlands sanctuary preserving the world's finest examples of temperate deciduous forest. The name Smoky comes from the smoke-like haze enveloping the mountains, which stretch in sweeping troughs and mighty billows to the horizon.
The park boasts unspoiled forests similar to those early pioneers found. Restored log cabins and barns stand as reminders of those who carved a living from this wilderness. Fertile soils and abundant rain have encouraged the development of a world-renowned variety of flora, including more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants. In the coves, broadleaf trees predominate. Along the crestat more than 6,000 feet elevationare conifer forests like those of central Canada.
Wildflowers and migrating birds abound in late April and early May. During June and July rhododendrons bloom in spectacular profusion. Autumn's pageantry of color usually peaks in mid-October. For many, this is the finest time of year, with cool, clear days idea for hiking. In winter, an unpredictable season, a peace pervades the park. Fog rolling over the mountains may blanket the conifers in frost.
A scenic, high mountain road winds up through Newfoundland Gap, with a spur out to Clingmans Dome and its observation tower. Along the road are superb views, and those from the tower are truly panoramic. But roads offer only an introduction to the Smokies. Some 900 miles of trails thread the whole of the Smokies' natural fabricits waterfalls, coves, bards, and rushing streams. Each trail invites you into the intimacy and richness of these high lands. The Smokies, a wild landscape rich with traces of its human past, calls people back year after year.
The General park map handed out at the visitor center is available on the park's map webpage.For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.
A geology photo album has not been prepared for this park.For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.
Currently, we do not have a listing for a park-specific geoscience book. The park's geology may be described in regional or state geology texts.
Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout
The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!
Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.
Information about the park's research program is available on the park's research webpage.
For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.
The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.
A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.
NPS Geology and Soils PartnersAssociation of American State Geologists
Geological Society of America
Natural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
U.S. Geological Survey
Currently, we do not have a listing for any park-specific geology education programs or activities.
General information about the park's education and intrepretive programs is available on the park's education webpage.For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.