Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the jewels in the crown of the United States. The park boasts over a half million acres of old-growth forests and mountain meadows, connected by rushing rivers and trickling streams. With a World Heritage Site as well as a United Nations Biosphere reserve, words simply fail when trying to describe the majesty of this spot.

The park boasts more visitors than any other national park in the country. Every year, more than nine million people camp, hike, picnic, or otherwise while away lazy afternoons in her splendor. It's a welcoming place, and a glorious reminder of how staggeringly beautiful nature is in her wild form.

Pioneers and the Trail of Tears

The park's history is rich and varied, as well. Rugged pioneers discovered the area in the early 1800s. They fought fiercely for the territory against the Eastern Band of the Cherokee who had called the area their home for hundreds of years. Hence, the horrible pilgrimage known as the "The Trail of Tears" began in 1837, as the Cherokees were forced from this land, to make their way toward the Oklahoma Territory.

Loggers and other timber types then moved in, causing yet another upset of the mountain people in the early 1900s. A librarian and historian wrote a book on the changing face of the region, which sparked a local--and then national--movement to maintain her pristine beauty. In 1934 the battle was won, and the area became officially known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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