Skip to content

12 Surprising Facts About The Mountains in Tennessee

    The mountains in Tennessee and well worth a visit. These spectacular mountains are absolutely fascinating. But what makes the mountains in Tennessee so interesting? Keep reading to find out!

    Mountains in Tennessee

    12 Surprising Facts About The Mountains in Tennessee

    Are you making a list of landscapes to visit on your next vacation trip? Then, do consider the Mountains in Tennessee amongst all your other options. Exploring this stunning natural beauty will be full of surprises as it hides many secrets. 

    Be it featuring 800 miles of hiking trails or being the most visited tourist spot in the US, there’s a lot that you can discover about these mountains. The national park in this region will expose you to exciting activities to cherish forever in your memories. 

    Get ready to be amazed as we ascend the Mountains in Tennessee and reveal 12 surprising truths about the majestic peaks. 

    1- The National Park with Most Tàraffic in America 

    The Tennessee Mountains National Park is a hub of various fun activities. From hiking trails to discovering history, you can do everything to satisfy the explorer inside you. With so many exciting things to do, this mountain welcomes millions of visitors annually. 

    Almost half a billion tourists have visited this park since its foundation in 1934. This National Park saw a record-high number of visitors in 2021, with 14.161 million recreational visitors. While the figures recorded in 2020 were 12.4 million. 

    It’s no surprise that more and more people flock to the Mountains in Tennessee to bask in their breathtaking beauty. Whether you want to seek adventure, relax, or simply connect to nature, this picturesque region has something for everyone. 

    These smoky mountains are home to a rich cultural heritage, unique wildlife, and a wide range of fun events that appeal to people of all ages and interests. Hence, it sees the most foot traffic in the US than any other mountainous spot. 

    2- Homes 30 Different Salamander Species 

    Are you an animal lover? Then, you might not want to miss out on this surprising fact about Mountains in Tennessee. While exploring this natural beauty, you will see various salamander species. It’s not called the Salamander Capital of the World just like that. This title comes from 30 different species of these fascinating characters residing in the mountains. 

    These slippery and slimy creatures are the true display of nature. Besides being fascinating to look at, salamanders also play a massive role in maintaining ecosystems.  From the mysterious hellbender to the vibrant newt, the Tennessee Mountains are full of a diverse community of these amphibians. 

    Whether you decide to hike or explore the clear streams, you will get plenty of chances to encounter salamanders in their natural habitat.  

    3- The Mountain’s Lucky Number is 1,500

    The Mountains in Tennessee are full of fascinating facts and figures, but one number that stands out, in particular, is 1,500. This connection links back to two incredible aspects of the Mountain’s Natural Park, i.e., the types of flowering plants and the population of black bears.

    There are around 1,500 different types of plants growing in this region. As a nature lover, the sheer variety of color and beauty will amaze you. Be it the delicate wildflowers or giant trees, there’s a lot to explore when visiting this lush landscape. 

    While it’s impossible to see all the flowering plants on your voyage, you might just be lucky to spot one of the estimated 1,500 black bears. There are higher chances that you hear them than see them. However, with a sharp eye and little patience, it’s still possible to spot one wandering through the park. 

    In fact, you might be able to spot two of them per square mile, considering Smokies’ total area of 800 miles. You should respect the state’s law and don’t try to invade the natural habitat of these creatures. It’s illegal to be within 150 feet of wildlife animals or disturb them through any means.

    So, get your binoculars sorted as missing to witness this lifetime experience will be the last thing you want. 

    4- Straddles the Tennessee-North Carolina Border 

    The Tennessee Mountains National Park is not just an ordinary tourist spot; it’s a natural spectacle that straddles the borders of two states. It transcends between Tennessee and North Carolina, showcasing a stunning landscape extending over 52 thousand acres. 

    5- No-Fee Entry

    You might not know, but exploring the Mountains in Tennessee won’t cost you a single penny, except for your personal expenses for the journey. There’s an interesting fact that relates to this no-entry-fee rule. 

    These Smoky Mountains were once private property, and the Tennessee-North Carolina Government even invested a huge amount in building the Newfound Gap Road. However, while transferring the ownership of this road to the Federal Government, it was declared that it would always be toll-free. It simply means you can travel the road and explore the park without paying a fee. 

    Besides this, it’s the first-ever national park that received only partial funding from the government. A businessman named John D. Rockefeller Jr. and local citizens provided the remaining funds of a whopping $5 million. 

    Afterward, President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the National Park of Tennessee Mountains as a place of Permanent Enjoyment for the People in 1940. These mountains definitely have a rich and captivating history to uncover. 

    6- Former Homeland of Cherokee Indian Tribe

    Do you know that Mountains in Tennessee have a unique name in the Cherokee language? It’s popularly regarded as the Shaconage amongst this Indian tribe. This term translates as the Land of Blue Smoke in the native language. 

    But where does this name originate from? The vapors from all the greenery in the park form a mist-like layer on the mountains. You can witness a blue hue when the gas from these vapors scatters the sky’s light. 

    With this fact comes another exciting aspect of the history of Mountains in Tennessee. The Cherokee Indians once inhabited these Smoky Mountains thousand years back. The tribal men hunted, farmed, and traded for a living during the stone age. At the arrival of the Britishers, the Cherokees had already occupied a large portion of the country. 

    Imagine being a part of De Soto’s expedition, traveling through territories of the Mountains in Tennessee. You would have encountered the Native Americans living in the area that history now remembers as Cherokee Tribe. It’s said that the first-ever recorded mention of this tribe was in De Soto’s writings. 

    7- 800 Miles of Picturesque Trail

    Calling the Mountains in Tennessee a hiker’s paradise hides no lies. With over 800 miles of trails, ranging from short and calm to long and adventurous, you can satisfy your inner discoverer. You’ll find it all on your hiking journey, from stunning frozen waterfalls in winter to blooming flowers in spring. 

    That’s not all about this widely spread hiking spot. The Tennessee Mountains also comprise a major region of the ever-popular Appalachian Trail. It stretches almost 70 miles through the National Park. This world-class destination hides the epitome of breathtaking beauty. Whether you decide to pack your bags for a few days or thru-hike the entire trail, there’ll be moments full of surprises. 

    Are you feeling extra ambitious reading all these hiking facts? Then, you can even join the elite hiker group known as the 900 Miler Club. This team of explorers hikes every trail in the park within a year. However, the mountains even witnessed a record-setting explorer Benny Braden. He completed his hiking journey in just two months and 19 days. 

    8- A Wildlife Wonderland 

    If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you can’t miss out on the opportunity of visiting the Mountains in Tennessee on your next holidays. The National Park in this region habitats over 20,000 species of animals. It includes every class, from animals living on land and water to those flying in the skies.

    Interestingly, the endangered majestic bull elk also call these mountains its home. This creature was almost extinct due to its overhunting and habitat loss in the 19th century. Fortunately, the wildlife organizations took some valuable measures and introduced it back to nature in the Smokies. 

    If you visit the Oconaluftee Village, you can witness the herd of these animals enjoying their life close to nature. The weight of a bull elk is around 700 pounds, which makes it unique from all the other animals you spot in this region. 

    The National Park Service and Discover Life in America joined hands to track the number of animal species in this wildlife wonderland. Currently, the count stops at 20,203. However, the figures will keep evolving as there’s much more to discover. 

    9- Breathtaking Display of Synchronous Fly-Event

    Besides being a breathtaking landscape, the Mountains in Tennessee also stage one of the most magnificent natural events in the world. It’s famous as the synchronous firefly show. Every year when the spring season is about to bid goodbye, thousands of fireflies light up the dark hollows in the mountains. 

    The fireflies display the true essence of harmony by illuminating the sky at night with their soft glow. It’s not only a sight to behold but also very rare to witness anywhere else in the world. The only two regions where you can enjoy this spectacular event are the Smokies and the Southeast Asian mangrove forests. 

    Currently, around 19 species of these fireflies have made Tennessee Mountains their home. Amongst all the North American flies, they enjoy a unique place, all thanks to their capability of synchronizing their flashing light patterns. 

    If you want to witness this display, plan your visit from late May to early June. The exact duration varies annually between the third week of May and June, as reported by the park officials. 

    10- Temperature Never Goes Above 80 Degrees

    If you’re tired of the city heat, then it’s time to plan an escape to the winter wonderland of the Mountains in Tennessee. Credit to high elevations, the major sections of this mountain experience colder and windier winters. 

    It rarely goes beyond 80 degrees at peaks like Mountain Leconte. In fact, the amount of precipitation is also higher than in the rest of the state. Back in 1986, a temperature of -32 degrees was recorded in the region, a rare sight in Tennessee. It’s more of a figure you can commonly see in Antarctica. 

    Not just the peaks but even Newfound Gap in the National Park also receives almost 5 feet of snow yearly. The officials occasionally close this road during cold times for safety precautions. 

    11- Open 24 Hours a Day 

    Are you a night owl or just curious to know how the mountains look during the nighttime? Then, pack your bags and head to the Tennessee Mountains National Park, which remains open 24 hours a day. 

    As the sun sets, the mountains become more magical. The stars pop out while the illuminating moon spreads glow all over the sky. By planning a nighttime hike to this destination, you can now witness this serene atmosphere closely. Nothing could ever match the tranquilizing experience brought on by the fusion of dark hours and the beautiful landscape. 

    12- Preserved Historic Structures 

    A trip to the Mountains in Tennessee will let you step back into historical times. This National Park has a treasure trove of historic structures that have been carefully preserved. So that future generations can cherish the cultural heritage. 

    You can spot more than 90 such structures in the region. It includes charming old homes, barns, historic churches, and grist mills. This infrastructure offers a unique glimpse into vintage architecture. From Cades Cove to Fork Motor Nature Trail, there are many places to discover and learn about the rich history that shaped the area. 

    Exploring North America? Learn here about the national parks you can visit at Wyoming. 

    The Mountains of Tennessee: To Conclude

    To conclude, the Mountains in Tennessee are home to a wealth of natural beauty and fascinating wonders. From historical preserves to diverse wildlife and rare natural events, there’s much to explore in this region. 

    Whether you want to satisfy your inner hiker or to plan a family trip, the National Park surrounding these mountains is a perfect tourist spot. So, pack your bags and wear your trailing shoes as the beauty of heights awaits you. 

    If you enjoyed this article about the mountains of Tennessee, I am sure you will love these too: