Natural Features & Ecosystems
Growing on over 70,000 acres of the Parkway are forests of varying age and type. Spruce-fir forests at the highest elevations are more typical of forests found hundreds of miles to the north. In the moist coves and hollows at mid- to low-elevations are mixed hardwoods of the cove hardwood forests. And in the driest, hottest sites can be found the oak-pine forests.
A variety of wetland types are found on the Parkway including southern Appalachian bog, high elevation seeps, swamp-forest bog complex, and bottomland (floodplain) forest. The southern Appalachian bog in particular is unique. Within the southeastern U.S. these increasingly rare wetlands support more species of rare, threatened and endangered species than all other types wetlands combined. Among some of the rarer species that are found within these unique habitats are the bog turtle, Gray's lily, large cranberry, and Cuthbert's turtlehead.