• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

Teacher Guided

Class photo at Mingus Mill

Bring your students for a change of scenery and pace.  Don't forget your picnic basket, blankets and camera.

These lesson plans are for teachers conducting their own program. For the ranger-led program plans, visit the Ranger-Guided page.

For Groups Planning an On-Site Program
Although these lessons are teacher-led, most are site-specific and you should first contact the park’s education office to be sure no other groups are scheduled for your program site (TN:865-436-1258 or NC:828-497-1942). Please download the park map to identify potential field trip locations. If staffing allows, rangers may be available to welcome your students.

 
Suggested Learning Level Theme

Suggested
Location

Kindergarten

Wildflowers

NC Communities

TN Communities

Chimneys Picnic Area

Oconaluftee Visitor Center

Sugarlands Visitor Center

First Grade

Communities

Families

Cades Cove Loop Road

Noah "Bud" Ogle Homesite

Second Grade Insects and Spiders Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
Third Grade

Animal Adaptations

Night Skies

Walker Sisters

Sugarlands Visitor Center

Little Greenbriar

Fourth Grade

Trees and Forest

Newfound Gap

Seventh and Eighth Grade

Talking Tombstones

Sugarlands Visitor Center

 

FYI
If you are doing any collecting, inventorying or sampling, (such as chemical water testing, handling of organisms, or digging) you need to apply and receive a collection permit from our Resource Management and Science Division. Please allow one month for processing. If you have any questions regarding this process, please email our permit office.

Before visiting the park, please review the Frequently Asked Questions page. These common topics are worth a reminder and the park-specific details may make your trip more successful.

There is no guarantee that another group will not be utilizing the same location that you plan to visit. With the exception of picnic shelters, areas can not be reserved for the exclusive use of individual groups, therefore two or more groups may be sharing the same area. To learn more about the park's picnic areas and reservation system, visit our picnicking page

For groups planning to use these lessons without traveling to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Many of the pre and post site lessons can be easily conducted on the school grounds or in the classroom. Some of the on-site lessons may be transferred to your area’s public lands. You may also wish to supplement your lessons with additional information from the National Park Service web site at www.nps.gov

Did You Know?

Fontana Lake is formed by Fontana Dam.

At 480 feet, Fontana Dam, located on the southwestern boundary of the park, is the tallest concrete dam east of the Rocky Mountains. The dam impounds the Little Tennessee River forming Fontana Lake and produces hydroelectric power. More...