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

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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    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 »

October 11, 2011 Photos

Many high elevation areas are approaching peak this week. Lower elevation areas still have a good deal of green foliage, but color is developing quickly even here.

 
The view from Mount Cammerer Fire Tower on Oct. 10.
The view from Mount Cammerer Fire Tower, elevation 4,669 feet, on Oct. 10. Mount Cammerer is located on the northeastern edge of the park, near Cosby, TN.
 

 
The view looking down from high elevation into mid elevation areas at Mount Cammerer.
The view looking down from high elevation on Mount Cammerer to mid elevation slopes below shows the progression of color development down the mountain sides.
 

 
Fishing in the Little River above Elkmont.
Fall colors are developing at lower elevation in the park. Reds and golds line the Little River as a fisherman tests his skill. Photo taken October 11 above Elkmont.
Warren Bielenberg Photo
 

 
Several species of asters bloom in the park during the fall.
Several different species of asters are among the numerous wildflowers that bloom along roadways and trails in the park during autumn. Photo shot in Cataloochee on the Big Fork Ridge Trail.
Gretchen Kirkland Photo
 

 
Mountain gentian blooms in fall.
Mountain gentian (Gentiana decora) blooms in fall. The violet striped petals of this beautiful wildflower remain "closed" throughout its blooming period. Photo taken on the Laurel Falls Trail on Oct 7.
Mike Baker Photo

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...