Eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina encompass the National Park known as the Smoky Mountains. I don’t know terribly much about them but it happens to be the most visited park in the United States. Take half the visitors and you don’t even get the number of visitors to the 2nd most visited park… The Grand Canyon. And there’s not even an entrance fee… Americans love free nature. Well anything free actually.
The Cherokee Called the Mountains “Land of the Blue Smoke”
One of our favorite facts about the Great Smoky Mountains is how they got their name. The Cherokee called the mountains “Shaconage” (Sha-Kon-O-Hey), which means “land of the blue smoke”. When Euro-Americans settled in the area in the early 1800s, they took inspiration from the Cherokee when they named the Great Smoky Mountains and the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.
- The “Smoke” in the Mountains is Actually Fog
What gives the mountains their signature smoky look? The “smoke” is in fact fog that is released by vegetation in the mountains. The millions of bushes, trees, and other plants in the Smokies all give off a little vapor when they exhale, and this comes together to form the magical haze that wafts through the area. The fog often appears blue because the vapor scatters blue light from the sky.
- The Smokies Have an Incredible Variety of Animal and Plant Life
There are more than 17,000 species of plants and animals living in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Scientists estimate that there are also between 30,000 and 80,000 species that haven’t been discovered yet. Here are just some of the flora and fauna that call the Smokies home:
Over 100 types of native trees, which is more variety than you will find in all of northern Europe
Roughly 1,500 black bears, which works out to two bears per square mile. That’s a crap ton of black bears.
30 species of salamander, including 24 types without lungs.
But back to the Smoky’s…
See how much fun these people are having in the Smoky’s. You should go…
So smoky. So good!!