The vistas of the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center, a remote outpost straddling the Cataloochee Divide, has lured researchers from across the globe to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just outside the station’s door. Read more


Since its creation, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has loomed over Swain County. Its massive peaks flank life itself: as an engine for tourism, a stomping ground for locals, and a refuge for wild things. Read more


Horace Kephart

NPS photo

George Ellison never knows when a Horace Kephart pilgrim will come calling. But invariably, they will come — creaking up the wooden stairs that have smooth depressions worn into the treads from years of use. Read more


Mount Cammerer fire tower

Friends of the Smokies photo

When Steve Woody and Barney Coulter got a mysterious call from Smokies Superintendent Randall Pope in the early 1990s asking to see them in his office, they dutifully, albeit curiously, complied. Read more


Ranger Jay

SML photo

While most national parks serve as conduits for science, the Smokies is a window on history as well. Churches, schools, general stores, lumber camps, grist mills, farms and homes once filled the valleys and hollers that now constitute the Park. Read more



Samuel Hobbs photo

As the people jockeyed for a better view, park rangers paced the railing of a large pen below and called for quiet along the row of eager spectators. On cue, one of the rangers lifted the latch of a tailgate on a large horse trailer. Read more


Gettin' up there

Jason Childs photo

Jesse Webster consulted his GPS and eyed the tangle of rhododendrons stretching out of sight up the mountainside. Somewhere beyond the gnarled thicket lay a massive grove of old-growth hemlocks — at least that’s what aerial photos suggested. Read more


Closer look

Martin Hutten photo

When Jim Lowe strikes out on his twice-monthly foray to check insect traps in the Smokies, he never knows just what is in store. Lowe runs various and sundry traps — cups sunk in the ground, large mesh nets draped from poles and dangling funnels. Read more


Bad piggie

NPS photo

Only the most farsighted and intuitive of those who labored for the creation of the Smokies could have foreseen the slate of environmental challenges that would be facing the park mere decades after its dedication in 1940. Read more

, Outdoors


Photo courtesy of Jim Casada Collection

Sport has always been a bright thread woven into the fabric of the mountain folkways. Long before creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the area’s steep ridges and deep hollows were cherished bear hunting territory. Read more

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to one of the most intact and comprehensive collections of early Americana, lining row after row, room upon room, of metal shelves, drawers and floor space in a sprawling, albeit hidden, storehouse. Read more


The case for a park

Courtesy of Nat C. Myers photography fund purchase, Asheville Art Museum collection

There’s a view on the way up to Clingmans Dome, an overlook where a maze of finger-like ridges unfurl at your feet and spread across the landscape before tumbling into the Oconaluftee River Valley below. Read more


The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is many things to many people. A place of refuge, a keeper of history, a home to wildlife, an engine for tourism. But every park admirer holds one view in common. Read more


Last train out of Ravensford

NPS archive photo by R. P. White

The battle for a park came close to defeat many times, yet park boosters fought and clawed their way to the finish line. It seemed they had fate on their side, delivering a needed push at all the right turning points. Read more


Some species that have disappeared from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park over the past two centuries are finding their way back again, thanks to restoration efforts of park rangers and wildlife lovers. Read more

, , Outdoors