sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

6 Interesting Facts About the Smoky Mountains That Might Surprise You

smoky mountain vacation
April 20, 2018

The Smoky Mountains have a rich history with tons of interesting tidbits that are as old as the mountains themselves. Many people are surprised when they realize that there’s more than just black bears, hiking trails, and great views that can be found here. Here are 6 interesting facts about the Smoky Mountains that make it exhilarating to its millions of visitors each year:

1. Home of Many Species of Wildflowers

red bee balm in the smoky mountains

This is one of the reasons why so many photographers make their home here. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 1,500 species of wildflowers, and you can bet the farm that you’ll encounter a few people equipped to capture their beauty while you’re visiting. The park offers a Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage every April as a showcase to interested participants in the different kinds that grace this landscape.

2. Many Miles of Trails are Open to Horses

The Smoky Mountains are home to four horseback riding stables, but most interestingly is the fact that over 550 miles of trails in the park are actually open to horses. If you want to go horseback riding when you visit the Smoky Mountains, visit one of the stables in the area to try a guided horseback ride and explore the mountains in a new way!

3. Home to Thousands of Cherokees

Another interesting fact about the Smoky Mountains involves the Cherokee Indians who once were the sole inhabitants of this land. The land they occupy around Cherokee, North Carolina is called the Qualla Boundary — 56,000 acres of land trust designated for the Cherokee tribe by the federal government. Much of their storied history can be found visiting the town, and especially at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

4. Has the Tallest Dam in the Eastern United States

fontana dam in north carolina'

Fontana Dam was just one of the major government projects that was established during World War II. Located in the southwest portion of the Smoky Mountains, the dam stands at an impressive 480 feet high and is not only the tallest dam in the eastern United States, but when it was finished, it was just the fourth largest in the world!

5. Clingmans Dome is the Highest Point on the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail itself is some 2,178 miles long from Maine to Georgia, but did you know that the Smoky Mountains’ very own Clingmans Dome, at 6,643 feet in elevation, is the highest point on this trek. The Appalachian Trail is of peak interest to many hikers seeking a gold medal achievement with their avid enthusiasm to the recreational activity, and many of them can be encountered when you visit this Smoky Mountain treasure.

6. Numerous Historical Structures in the Park

The mountains are an easily visible part of the Smoky Mountains, but once you venture in further, you can really see what makes them so appealing and interesting to its millions of yearly visitors. Many structures inside the park have been moved, but some were left standing and maintained by the park’s workers in the hopes that would-be visitors could really feel what it was like for people to have lived during the times before tourism came calling. This is a terrific way to step back from your devices for a day and really get a feel for the old way of life.

Where to Stay

The front of Sidney James Mountain Lodge in downtown Gatlinburg TN.

Now that you know all of these interesting facts about the Smoky Mountains, it’s time for you to visit! Sidney James Mountain Lodge is only minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so we’re the perfect place to stay. We have affordable accommodations for the whole family, along with amazing amenities like indoor and outdoor pools and a poolside cafe!

The Smoky Mountains are full of interesting things that are of constant interest to the many visitors every year. It’s quite likely that when you travel to the area, you’ll each have a day where all of your interests are satisfied, making the Smoky Mountains a journey you won’t forget — and shouldn’t miss. Now that you know all these interesting facts about the Smoky Mountains, browse our Gatlinburg hotel rooms and start planning your trip.