Have you heard of the Smoky Mountains? If you have never been to this spectacular biodiverse mountain range, you are probably wondering where they are. They are a common east coast getaways but where are the Smoky Mountains?
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Where are the Great Smoky Mountains?
The Great Smoky Mountains is a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains / Appalachian Mountains. The range straddles the border between Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. The range is found within the Tennesse counties of Blount, Servier, and Cocke and the North Carolina counties of Swain and Haywood.
The mountains range in elevation from 875 feet to 6,643 feet. The highest point in the Great Smoky range is Clingmans Dome with an elevation of 6,643 ft and a prominence of 4,503 ft. There are 11 peaks over 6,000 feet in the range.
The mountain range stretches from the Pigeon River in the northeast to the Little Tennessee River in the south. The park is the source of several rivers including the Little Pigeon River, Oconaluftee River, and Little River.
Annual precipitation in the Smokies ranges from 50 to 80 inches and snowfall can be heavy at times. Winds upwards of 100 miles per hour are seen a couple of times a year.
The Smoky mountain range is part of the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere (SAMAB) and most of the Smokies Mountains are protected by Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Smoky Mountains are within 500 miles of about 30% of the US population. 500 miles is considered to be a 1-day drive, so the Great Smoky Mountains are an easy drive for most of the Eastern United States. Given its location, it is easy to see why this park is one of the U.S’s busiest national parks. If you are looking to visit and are outside of driving range or just want to drive there are several airports located near the Smokies.
Where is Great Smoky Mountains National Park Located?
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. The park is 522,427 acres (211,418 hectares) in size. It is roughly split between Tennesse and North Carolina. North Carolina has a slightly large portion of the park with 276,000 acres to Tennessess’s 244,000 acres.
Almost 95 of the park is forested and about 36 of that is old-growth temperate deciduous forest. Old-growth forest is a mature area of forest that hasn’t been logged. These areas have multilayered canopies with large standing trees with a high level of biodiversity.
The park’s forest is made of a cove hardwood forest in lower elevations and a Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest in the upper elevations.
For the most part, the Smokies (and most of the Appalachian Mountain range) sees the same ecosystem across its elevation. This ecosystem is incredibly diverse. Over 19,000 species of organisms have been found within the park. This includes 65 species of mammals, over 200 species of birds, 67 native species of fish, 39 species of reptiles, and 43 species of amphibians.