The Great NPS Bake Off

Looking down on a countertop dusted in flour a ranger hat is drawn on the surface. The bottom center reads, "The Great NPS Bake Off".


Calling all bakers!

Bring out the rolling pins, the cookie cutters, the leveling knifes and embark on a baking challenge à la National Park Service. No experience necessary. You are invited to participate in the Great NPS Bake Off throughout the month of December.

A plate of cookies cut out in the shape of NPS arrowheads and a gingerbread man.



Create a baked good connected to a National Park Service site and share your creation on social media using #GreatNPSBakeOff thoughout the month of December.

  • The merry treat can be inspired by nature, architecture, history, or people.
  • Re-create a historical recipe.
  • Enjoy wild foods? Create a treat inspired by a wild food found in a national park. Prickly pears, huckleberries, and fireweed, oh my.
  • Share your favorite treat you enjoy while exploring a national park.

Looking for inspiration...

A gingerbread cantilever barn. A gingerbread cantilever barn.

Left image
A ranger's rendition of a cantilever barn made of gingerbread.
Credit: NPS

Right image
Cantilever barn
Credit: NPS

Cantilever barns are an iconic piece of architecture in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Built by early European settlers, the barn design was brought over from Scandinavia and protected crops from the damp ground of this temperate rainforest. It also protected farmers from taxes as they were only taxed on the ground that a building touched. Cantilever barns are seen throughout the Tennessee side of the park, especially in Cades Cove - although they are typically made from chestnut boards, not gingerbread. Delicately balanced, this structure is sure to impress Paul Hollywood and visitors to the Smokies!

What’s food got to do with it?

From the wild foods that have sustained, and continue to sustain, Indigenous peoples before the National Parks were created to recipes archived in our collections from people like Abigale Adams, food is much more than nourishment for the human body, it tells the story of the place and time it was made and the people that broke bread. It’s no secret that food often evokes strong memories tied to a special time, place, or person.

Last updated: December 1, 2022