Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021 - BRPG30

  Laurel Falls tumbles about 80 feet.

Two-thirds the size of Rhode Island, home to 19,000 species.

  Cades Cove

30 BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY

Like twin jewels to the north and south
of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah
National Park and Great Smoky Mountains
National Park offer the perfect augments to
your parkway experience.
The Great Smokies, straddling the North
Carolina/Tennessee state line, are made up
of more than 800 square miles of stunning,
95%-forested mountain geography, including
6,643-foot Clingmans Dome, only about
50 feet shy of Mount Mitchell, the highest
mountain in the eastern U.S.
The park was authorized by Congress
in 1926, established in 1934 and officially
dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt
in 1940. Since then, GSMNP has consistently
been among the most visited national parks.
The park is home to more than 850 miles
of trails, including 71 miles of the Appalachian
National Scenic Trail.
Entrances to the park are at the bustling
towns of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and
Cherokee, North Carolina, each of which has
its own bounty of activities, lodging, dining,

amusements and recreation.
Inside the park, two main visitor centers-
Sugarlands and Oconaluftee-offer park
information and guidebooks as well as
exhibits on the wildlife, geology and history of
the park.
For those enjoying the park by automobile,
Newfound Gap Road offers a drive across
the park between the two visitor centers. And
Cades Cove Loop Road is an 11-mile route with
access to the Cades Cove Visitor Center. Foot
and bicycle access only is accommodated
until 10 a.m. Saturdays and Wednesdays from
early May until late September.
The park's size, elevation, geography and
protection over the decades-about 35% of
the park is old-growth forest-create a home
for some 19,000 species, with estimates
that there may be an additional 100,000
undocumented species on park lands.
Among the known species are more than
200 bird species and nearly 100 reptile and
amphibian species, along with the park's
famous black bears.

STOCK.ADOBE.COM | JMICHAEL PHOTOGRAPHY

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS
NATIONAL PARK



Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021

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