Explore the beauty of the Smokies with author Ben Anderson as he chronicles a year-long backpacking and hiking adventure in this glorious region. more

Mountain Explorer

Rankin Bottoms

Photo special to Smoky Mountain Livin

About an hour’s drive from Waynesville, North Carolina, and you’ll be up to your ankles in mud, swatting mosquitoes and listening to cicadas hum from the willows and cottonwood trees of Rankin Bottoms Wildlife Management Area. more

Mountain Explorer


Wolfgang Wander/Creative Commons

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park occupies some of the most biologically diverse forest on the globe, and the recently competed Species Mapper offers the opportunity to explore that diversity from a computer screen. more

Mountain Explorer

King of the forest

Creative Commons Photo

Klandagi, or “lord of the forest,” was the Cherokee name for cougar. The Cherokee revered the big cat; that and the owl were the only two animals to reach the seventh (highest) level of purity and sacredness. more

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Eastern hellbender

David Herasimtschuk photo

Even on a hot July day, the creeks of Roane County are cold enough to need thick wetsuits. Outfitted with snorkels and fins, divers explore the shallow creek’s rocky bottom on a hunt for the elusive hellbender, North America’s largest salamander. more

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Bugle boy

Holly Kays photo

Do I stay or do I go? And if I stay, do I just sleep through it all? The Southern Appalachians are home to a large and diverse fauna, and as winter sets in, that fauna gets to work surviving. more




What began as a gift to a friend has evolved into a major art release to benefit wildlife habitat conservation in North Carolina. more


Little Tennessee River

Donated photo

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation has released its “Nine in North Carolina Not to Miss.” The list details the top nine places to enjoy wildlife and wildlife-associated activities in the state. more

Mountain Explorer

Looking foxy

Margaret Hester photo

There’s a host of furry, feathery, slinky, slimy, big and tiny creatures making their homes across the mountains and with which we share the landscape. Some homes are but temporary. more


Hal Herzog

Mark Haskett photo

Granted, I wasn’t always fond of snakes, and even now, picking up a non-venomous redbelly makes me flinch a little. But all in all, the snake world is one I have come to admire. But the kids’ faces are aghast. more


Winters in the Smokies can be harsh. The lush green mountainsides of spring and summer turn gray and brown and bare. There are no more tender shoots to browse, no more luscious leaves to nibble and no more juicy berries to slurp. more

Mountain Explorer


Michael Meissner illustration

“I want to see the beaver lodges again,” my son had said, remembering a family hike from years ago, and I was happy to oblige. He was fifteen, and this was a rare request as adolescent interests shift to socializing and electronic distraction. more

Good Reads

Northern Cardinal

Judy Lundquist photo

My first foray into bird feeding began with a glimpse of an American goldfinch in the trees in my backyard. On my next visit to the supermarket, I spotted a “finch sock,” a long mesh bag full of thistle seed, designed especially for finches. more