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

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Spring Road Status

    During spring, park roads may close due to ice, especially at high elevation where wet roads can freeze as temperatures drop at night. For road status information call (865) 436-1200 ext. 631 or follow updates at http://twitter.com/SmokiesRoadsNPS. More »

Threats to Wildflowers

Wildflowers in the Smokies face a number of human-instigated threats, including air pollution, off-trail hiking, and poaching.

Long term research conducted in the park shows that ground level ozone pollution is injuring at least 30 species of native plants. Ground level ozone, sometimes called "smog," is created when nitrogen oxides from automobiles and factories mix with sunlight and natural hydrocarbons. Black-eyed susan, tall milkweed, and coneflower are among the most vulnerable wildflowers.

Plant poaching appears to be on the rise in the Smokies. Some commercial poachers remove hundreds of plants each trip and make several trips annually. In recent years groups of poachers have been apprehended with well over 1,000 American ginseng roots. Aside from ginseng, the most popular targets are orchids and trilliums. Overzealous gardeners take a serious toll by removing showy wildflowers for transplanting back home and careless hikers trample delicate wildflowers when they leave established trails.

If you observe people digging plants in the park, report the activity to the nearest ranger station or call (865) 436-1230.

Did You Know?

An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001.

An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001. Elk once roamed the Smokies, but were eliminated from the region in the mid 1800s by over-hunting and loss of habitat. Other animals successfully reintroduced to the park include river otters and barn owls. More...