sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

4 Interesting Facts About the Great Smoky Mountains

sunrise in the Smoky Mountains
March 13, 2023

If you’re looking for more things to do during your stay with us, you should visit the Great Smoky Mountains. There are many things to see and do for visitors of all ages. Before you see this crown jewel in person though, get to know the area a little bit better! Explore this list of 4 interesting facts about the Great Smoky Mountains:

1. It is One of the Oldest Mountain Ranges in the World

One of the most surprising facts about the Great Smoky Mountains is that they are between 200 and 300 million years old. Scientists determine a mountain’s age from many factors, such as the weathering of the rocks and particles from the soil and trees. Another fun fact: 1/3 of the trees in the Smokies are over 100 years old. The oldest tree in the area is a blackgum tree that is more than 500 years old. Even though the Great Smoky Mountains have been around for many years, their beautiful views never change and will continue to withstand the test of time.

2. The John Oliver Cabin is the Oldest Human Structure

John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove

The beautiful natural scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains may just be home to animals now, but it was once a thriving settlement where people lived and worked. Today, you can see its remnants all throughout the national park in the form of historical structures, some of which include cabins, churches, and schools. While all of them have been around for quite some time, the oldest human structure is the John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove. The cabin was built in 1818, and it was a cozy first home to John Oliver and his wife. They later built a second home close by. Even so, the first one was later used as a honeymoon cabin for John Oliver’s son.

3. There is a Synchronous Firefly Event Every Year

There are a lot of beautiful sights in the Smokies, and the Synchronous Firefly Event is one of them. It takes place in early June during the mating season of the photinus carolinus. The Great Smoky Mountains are home to over 19 species of fireflies, but this is the only one that is able to synchronize its lighting with one another. All the male fireflies flash at once so that females notice them. The result is a beautiful sensation of natural lighting. It will look like something straight out of a fairytale.

4. They Are The Salamander Capital of the World

salamander in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Another claim to fame that the Smokies have is that they are deemed the “Salamander Capital of the World.” The area is home to over 30 species of them. They may seem small, but some can grow up to 29 inches in length. They are nocturnal and more active in the winter. When you visit the Great Smoky Mountains, you will find many salamanders hanging around Grotto Falls. The rocks and water make for an excellent habitat. If you enjoyed reading these interesting facts about the Great Smoky Mountains, start planning your visit and discover the top 5 things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.