I’ve never understood Halloween. Not really.
I know what it’s like to put on a costume … but the fuss about being someone/something else has always seemed like a canard to me (HA. Humor, coming at you). So, I do my best to not participate in that thing called All Hallows’ Eve.
These days, I make sure the kids are here to answer the door … they like that. And that’s a very good thing. Me, I’m upstairs with a glass of something tasty, avoiding the ever dwindling madding crown in our aging neighborhood.
Where Is It: This large park is on the North Carolina/Tennessee border.
There are 4 visitor centers:
Cades Cove Visitor Center: Open every day except Christmas Day.
Inside the park near the mid-point of the 11-mile, one-way Cades Cove Loop Road.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center: Open every day except Christmas Day
Inside the park, 2 miles north of Cherokee, NC, on US-441.
Sugarlands Visitor Center: Open every day except Christmas Day.
Inside the park, 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on US-441
Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station: Open April – November
At the Clingmans Dome trailhead, 7 miles off US-441 on the Clingmans Dome Road.
The Birth: From National Parks Traveler:
Nearly all the families that owned land now within the borders of the park were forced to sell their land to the federal government and move elsewhere. Today, their legacy remains in the form of the preserved/restored log cabins, barns, frame churches, and other historic structures that tourists see in and near the park, and especially at Cades Cove. Another legacy is a lingering dislike for federal government interference in people’s lives. Some people even think it’s OK to hunt bears and other game in the park, since their granddaddies did “before the federal government kicked them off their land.”
Well, that’s not exactly how the government set out to create the park, but displacements did occur. The idea for a park in this area was first advanced in 1899 and again in 1923. Congress finally provided initial authorization (administration and protection authority) for a park in 1926, but provided no federal money for the project. The task of acquiring the land would be left to the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. The strong fund-raising effort in the 1920s – especially in the Knoxville and Asheville areas – is a great credit to the many people in both states who worked hard to get the park. Not enough money could be raised, however, and the campaign would have failed had it not been for a last-minute $5 million donation by park benefactor John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Congress finally authorized the full development of the park on June 15, 1934.
It Happened Here: From National Parks Traveler:
There was a great deal of opposition to establishing the park. Many people saw the project as a government threat to their livelihoods and lifestyles. A good many wanted a national forest created so that logging and hunting could continue. There was considerable resentment about the way the land was acquired. It was not like establishing a park in Western states, where it was possible to simply change the status of land (such as a national forest or military installation) that the federal government already owned.
Timber companies owned about 85 percent of the land in the Smokies. Although these companies had a huge investment in timber, railroads, company towns, etc., it was a fairly simple matter to buy their holdings. This was not the case for the remaining 15 percent of the land. This consisted of land owned by thousands of smallholders (predominantly farmers), most of whom did not want to leave even if they got fair market value for their land. Nearly all the approximately 5,665 people who were displaced deeply resented being forced out. Most complained that they were lied to, mistreated, and cheated. Some were allowed to stay on lifetime leases, with the land reverting to the government when they died.
Most of the land that was roughed up by logging, farming, mining, and related activities has reverted to forest and meadow since the 1930s. Few park visitors are even aware that much of the landscape they admire today had a derelict and pretty well beat up appearance within living memory.
Size: The park is just over 815 square miles.
# Visitors: 9,685,829 in 2012. This National Park is # 1 in attendance, with July typically having the largest attendance and January the smallest.
Plants: There are over 1,600 species of flowering plants in the Park. There are also 100 native tree species and over 100 shrub species.
Animals: From the Park’s website:
Protected in the park are some 65 species of mammals, over 200 varieties of birds, 67 native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians.
The symbol of the Smokies, the American Black Bear, is perhaps the most famous resident of the park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides the largest protected bear habitat in the East. Though populations are variable, biologists estimate approximately 1,500 bears live in the park, a density of approximately two bears per square mile.
Choices: The park straddles the Tennessee/North Carolina border, with about half of the park in each state. “Gateway” towns have sprung up to serve the huge numbers of tourists that visit each year. Townsend is the gateway to the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop road.
On the Tennessee side, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge (Dollywood) and Sevierville (outlet malls) each offer unique experiences. Cherokee, NC offers many experiences with Indian culture, from museums to festivals to theater.
Fees: There are no entrance fees to this National Park.
Staying There: There are back country and front country (“car camping”) sites available. There is a hike-in lodge available as well: , which is at 6,400′ elevation. Reservations required!
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Current Issues: From NationalGeographic.com:
Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the Southeast wasn’t named for its smog, but it is one of many parks seriously affected by the problem. Air quality issues originate outside the parks. At Great Smoky, power plant and industrial emissions are blown by winds to the southern Appalachians and trapped there by the mountains.rican road trip.
Don’t Miss This: From National Parks Traveler:
A strong argument could be made that hiking is what the Appalachian Mountains were designed for. Just look at those mountains! They’re steep and rumpled, creased by valleys, cut by streams, and thickly forested.
Despite their appearance, in Great Smoky you’ll find gentle paths for short family strolls, as well as long-distance routes that will satisfy backpackers for days on end.
While the park currently has 803 miles of maintained trail, there once were closer to 900 miles of trails stitched over the mountains and up and down the drainages. So treasured are those hundreds of miles by local hardcore hikers that they came up with a club, the 900 Miler Association, that hands out patches to those who can demonstrate they’ve covered all those miles.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make the entire circuit in one season.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail might be the most well-known of the park’s hiking trails. The footpath that meanders from northern Maine to Georgia roams the spine of Great Smoky, crossing grassing balds and heavily vegetated mountain flanks.
– It doesn’t get much prettier than this. Abrams Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tweeted by US Dept of Interior 9/16/13.
Fog shrouds the valleys of North Carolina In this October shot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior 10/20/13.
The Little Pigeon River in fall. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 10/28/13.
Ramsey Cascades, at 100 feet high, is the tallest waterfall in the park. From the National Park Service website.
Salamanders can often be found in the waters at the base of the 90′ high Hen Wallow Falls. From the National Park Service website.
Wild turkey hen and chicks, from the National Park Service website.
The Trillium Gap Trail runs behind 25′ high Grotto Falls. From the National Park Service Website.
Indian Creek Falls is one of 2 waterfalls that you can enjoy on an easy 1.6 mile roundtrip hike in the Deep Creek area. From the National Park Service website.
Juney Whank Falls is divided into an upper and lower section, both of which can be viewed from a log footbridge that crosses the falls. From the National Park Service website.
Rainbow Falls is 80′ high. Mist from the falls produces a rainbow on sunny afternoons. From the National Park Service website.
Gray squirrel, from the National Park Service website.
The Place of 1,000 Drips, located beside the road in Roaring Fork, is best viewed during periods of wet weather. From the National Park Service website.
Starry Sky Over Clingmans Dome. From the National Park Service website.
Coyote, from the National Park Service website.
From the National Park Service website.
From the National Park Service website.
From the National Park Service website.
This photo of Abrams Falls was taken by Eric Hope on 10/27. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior 10/30/13.
Sunrise, 11/5/13. Photo: Nicholas Yarnell. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior on 11/6/13.
From the Park’s Facebook page.
National Park Service: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
National Park Service: Campsites & Trail Map
10 Beautiful Views You Don’t Want To Miss
Barbara Whitaker: Great Smoky Mountains
Alice A Kemp: The Great Smoky Mountains
The Arkansas River at sunset. A stunning photo from Colorado’s Browns Canyon Wilderness Study Area, administered by the Bureau of Land Management. This photo was tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 10/25/13.
Designated a National Monument in 1906 by President Teddy Roosevelt, Wyoming’s Devils Tower was the victim of a typographical error at birth. As the National Park Service’s website puts it:
When the proclamation establishing Devils Tower was published, the apostrophe was unintentionally dropped from “Devil’s”—and this clerical error was never officially corrected.
The 867′ tall Devils Tower in Autumn. Tweeted by the Department of the Interior, 10/24/13.
Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall. Tweeted by the Department of the Interior on 10/23/13
A lovely day for a stroll through Grand Teton National Park. Tweeted by the Department of the Interior, 10/22/13.
Ohio State did a tribute to Michael Jackson on the 25th anniversary of the Bad album.
The full show is on the link below, but this .gif shows a spectacular highlight. Watch the video to see the moonwalking tribute come together at normal speed, at 4:00 of the video. The moonwalking starts at 4:44.
Ohio State’s Moonwalking Marching Band!
Creativity is a wonderful thing. Me, I just see a pumpkin.