Wetlands are unique habitats at the interface of land and water. They comprise less than 1% of Great Smoky Mountains National Park but are critical to the park’s biodiversity.
Wetland community types in the Smokies are diverse and include marshes, sinkholes, beaver ponds, and floodplain forests. They can be fed by streams, springs, seeps, overland flooding, or lakes. They can be found on gentle or steep terrain and from 870 to over 6,600 feet in elevation!
Wetlands provide habitat for many of the park's plant, amphibian, insect, bird, fish, and mammal species. Over a quarter of the park’s plant species grow in wetlands, and 8% grow only in wetlands!
Wetlands provide many ecosystem functions including filtering pollutants and sediment, tempering flood waters, reducing stream erosion, and storing water for groundwater recharge. Visitors may also enjoy photography and birdwatching in wetlands.
In 2010, park scientists began a parkwide wetland inventory project. This project has mapped over 600 wetlands throughout the park and supports park management decisions and ongoing research.
Use the interactive story map below to explore Smokies’ wetlands and learn more about their hydrology, diversity, importance, and threats.
Where to view wetlands:
Last updated: March 15, 2021