• 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 »

Your Safety


Fatal injuries occur every year in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Motor vehicle accidents and drownings are the leading causes of death. Be aware:

  • Motorcyclists must be especially cautious here. Automobiles frequently cross center lines on blind curves and winding roads. Ride defensively!

  • There are no life-guarded swimming areas in the park. Swimming and tubing are not recommended.

  • Never try to climb to the top of a waterfall. The rocks are coated with slippery algae, and several hikers have been killed.

  • Yellowjacket wasps are especially aggressive in autumn. Allergic persons should carry "epi" pens or other medications. If stung on the hand, remove rings immediately.

  • Don't drive impaired! The park's mountainous roads are narrow, winding and heavily traveled. They are unforgiving for a careless driver; or worse, for a driver whose mental state is compromised by alcohol or drugs. Every year, several alcohol-related fatalities occur within the park. The park stepped up DUI enforcement with the launch of the 13 Reasons to Drive Sober program.

Average number of serious injuries in the park each year:
Motor vehicle accidents - 50
Walking or hiking accidents - 38
Bicycle accidents - 16
Falls from waterfalls - 9
Horse related - 7
Tubing related - 5
Bee Sting reaction - 4

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...