sunrise in the Smoky Mountains

4 Things You Didn’t Know About the Smoky Mountains

Pigeon Forge is just a short drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States. While you’re in town visiting Dolly Parton’s Stampede, you don’t want to miss the chance to explore the beauty of the Smokies. To help you learn more about it, we’ve put together a list of 4 things you didn’t know about the Smoky Mountains.

1. Salamander Capital of the World

salamander in the Smokies

We know you’ve heard about all the black bears in the Smoky Mountains, but the Smokies actually get one of their nicknames from another animal. It’s considered the “Salamander Capital of the World!” Five families of salamanders are represented in the park, including Cryptobranchidae, Proteidae, Salamandridae, Ambystomatidae, and Plethodontidae. The majority of vertebrate animals in the park on any given day are salamanders — this includes human visitors, too! One of the best places to spot salamanders is Grotto Falls.

2. Home to More Species of Trees Than Europe

Another interesting fact is that the Smoky Mountains are home to more than 100 different species of trees. That’s more than the species of trees in all of Europe and more than any other North American national park. It’s also home to one of the largest blocks of deciduous, temperate, old-growth forests in North America. In addition to 100 native tree species, there are over 1,600 species of flowering plants.

3. About 1,500 Black Bears

black bear in the Smoky Mountains

One of the things many visitors hope to spot while they’re in the Smokies is a black bear. The good news is the chances are high if you’re looking in the right places! The Smoky Mountains are home to about 1,500 black bears. This creates a population density of two black bears per square mile! They can live at any elevation in the park, so you could see them on a hike to the summit of Mount LeConte, or driving through the Cades Cove valley. Cades Cove and Roaring Fork are two of the most popular places to spot black bears in the Smoky Mountains.

4. The “Smoke” Actually Comes From Trees & Plants

The question we hear the most about the Smoky Mountains is, “What makes the Smoky Mountains smoky?” Did you know they actually aren’t smoky at all? The “smoke” in the mountains comes from the area’s vegetation. Plants release something called volatile organic compounds that have a high vapor pressure, and in the right environment, it can form fog. The millions of plants and trees in the Smoky Mountains all give off vapor, which comes together to create the signature smoky look in the mountains.

Now that you know more about the Smoky Mountains, we bet you can’t wait to start planning your visit to the area. For help, check out these tips for having the best Pigeon Forge vacation.