• 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 »

Browse by Science Topic

Dispatches from the Field > Dispatch index by science topic

Bear tracks.

Science in the Smokies includes understanding bear behavior, monitoring stream and amphibian health, searching for new forms of life, monitoring air quality, and much, much more!

NPS photo.

Air quality

Culture & Archeology




Invasive Exotic Species


Water quality


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Did You Know?

Flame azalea can be found growing on heath balds in the park.

The park’s high elevation heath balds are treeless expanses where dense thickets of shrubs such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, and sand myrtle grow. Known as “laurel slicks” and “hells” by early settlers, heath balds were most likely created by forest fires long ago. More...