National and State Parks

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a United States National Park that that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North Carolina runs northeast to southwest through the centerline of the park. It is the most visited national park in the United States. It encompasses 522,419 acres making it one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States. www.nps.gov/grsm

Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top. On clear days views expand over a 100 miles. Although Clingmans Dome is open year-round, the road leading to it is closed from December 1 through March 31, and whenever weather conditions require. Visit Website

Cataloochee

Cataloochee

Cataloochee is a valley in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Now a recreational and historic area within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cataloochee was once home to a substantial Appalachian community and Cherokee hunting ground. Elk were reintroduced into the park in February 2001 when 25 elk were released in Cataloochee. After the 2011 calving season the total population of elk in the park was estimated to be just over 130. Visit Website

Cades Cove

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is an isolated valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA. The valley was home to numerous settlers before the formation of the national park. Today Cades Cove, the single most popular destination for visitors to the park, attracts more than two million visitors a year because of its well preserved homesteads, scenic mountain views, and abundant display of wildlife. Visit Website

Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest is a National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. The forest covers 512,758 acres. The forest also includes tracts surrounding the city of Asheville, the city of Brevard and land in the French Broad River Valley. Recreational opportunities include hiking and backpacking, among others. The land and its resources are also used for hunting, wildlife management, and timber harvesting, as well as the North Carolina Arboretum. www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc

Nantahala National Forest

Nantahala National Forest

The Nantahala National Forest was established in 1920, and is the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina. It is the home of many western NC waterfalls. Waterfalls in the forest include one of the highest in the eastern United States: 411' high Whitewater Falls. Many trails lace the various mountain ranges within Nantahala National Forest’s boundaries. Hikes here vary from rugged trails taking you to the top of 700-foot high cliffs on Whiteside Mountain, to easy strolls to waterfalls. www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc

Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park is located 25 miles southeast of Asheville, NC. It offers hiking trails for all skill levels, spectacular views, the Devil’s Head balancing rock and a 404-foot waterfall, Hickory Nut Falls. Its most notable feature is a 315-foot rock formation, a granite monolith, Chimney Rock, accessible by elevator and providing views of the park and surrounding countryside. www.chimneyrockpark.com

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. The Parkway, while not a “National Park”, is the most visited unit of the National Park System. Land on either side of the road is owned and maintained by the National Park Service. www.blueridgeparkway.org

Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park is a North Carolina state park in Yancey County, North Carolina in the United States. Established in 1915 by the state legislature, it became the first state park of North Carolina. It includes the peak of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. From the parking lot you can take a short hike to the summit which includes an observation tower and the grave of Elisha Mitchell, the professor who first noted the mountain’s height. Visit Website