Great Smoky Mountains National Park

About the Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is world renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. Located along the ridges between North Carolina and Tennessee, this is one of America's most visited parks.

Great Smoky Mountains NP

Changes in area climate may alter the park’s ecosystems, changing vegetation communities, habitats and visitor experience. Challenges to cultural resources and infrastructure may also occur. However, to adapt to a changing climate, park managers must plan ahead and prepare.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has already contributed to improving the environment by initiating of a variety of programs and projects. The park has already implemented strategies to decrease waste through behavior change including engaging staff to reduce and manage waste at work by providing paper recycling bins throughout the park and training custodial staff on the most efficient use of cleaning products.

An electronics recylce/donate program is also in place at Great Smoky Mountains. This allows the park to donate used equipment to schools and senior centers and ensures all unusable computers and electronics are recycled properly to manage toxic components. Park staff also tracks waste management data, including all solid waste generation for landfill waste and recycling.

The Great Smoky Mountains Climate Action Plan identifies further steps that the park will take to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to current and future impacts of climate change. The plan presents the park’s GHG emission reduction goals, progress to date and associated reduction actions and adaptation strategies to achieve the park’s goals.

Emissions Profile

n 2006, GRSM GHG emissions totaled 21,050 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E). These emissions were from park visitors, park operations, concessioners, and Tremont activities from transportation, energy, and waste. Park operations account for only 5% of the annual total GHG emissions or 1,060 MTCO2E. This includes emissions from park operations (but not visitor transportation activities), including NPS vehicle use within the park (See graph below).

For perspective, a typical single family home in the United States produces approximately 11 MTCO2 per year. Thus, the emissions from park operations are roughly equivalent to the emissions from the electricity use of 96 households each year.

Great Smoky Mountains 2008 Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source
Great Smoky Mountains National Park 2006 Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Source


Great Smoky Mountains National Park has committed to:

  • Reduce GHG emissions from its park operations to 16% below 2006 levels by the year 2020
  • Reduce 2006 energy and transportation-related GHG emissions from park operations by 20 percent by 2020
  • Reduce 2006 waste-related GHG emissions from park operations by 9 percent by 2020
To read more about how Great Smoky Mountains National Park is responding to climate change, check out the park's Action Plan!