GSNP Today

By Stephen

My last two blogs covered the resources in the Fontana Regional Library system about the Smoky Mountains, before the park existed, and the grassroots movement of the early twentieth century to get the park established along the Tennessee/North Carolina border.  This time I will list guides that can be used when visiting the present day park.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the national park system.  Within its boundaries are a myriad of opportunities for all sorts outdoor activities from just riding in an automobile to following trails oMy  last two blogs listed resources in the Fontana Regional Library dealing with n horseback or by foot power.   Fishing, birdwatching, wading in cool streams are just some of the other activities visitors can enjoy.  Listed below are some resources in the library’s catalog to help a reader get more out a visit to the park.

An overall guide to the park can be found in Rose Houk’s Exploring the Smokies.  The book’s subtitle:  “Things to see and do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park” suggests it might be useful to a first time visitor to the park.

Flora and Fauna: Wild animals in their natural habitat and wildflowers, as well as views of the mountains, attract visitors to the Smokies. Bill Lea has established himself as the premier photographer working the park.  The library has three of his books which depict all three of these  –  Great Smoky Mountains Wildlife PortfolioCades Cove:  Window to a Secret World, Great Smoky Mountains : Wonder and Light.  Richard Smith’s Wildflowers of the Southern Mountains, Leonard Atkins’ Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains, and Peter White’s Wildflowers of the Smokies will help the reader identify the flowers they find in the park. Other books in this vein are Trees & Familiar Shrubs of the Smokies and Ferns of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

GeologyA Roadside Guide to the Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a useful way to learn about the formation of the mountains while traveling through the park  in the comfort of an automobile.

Hiking:  There a variety of hiking trails in the park that range from easy, that a child can handle, to strenuous.  The guide can depend on how seasoned hikers are in your group and whether or not there are children along.  If you having children who are hiking, here are two books:  Day and Overnight Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park  and Time Well Spent:  Family Hiking in the Smokies.  The latter book is age specific  with regards to individual trails.   The classic guide is Bill Beard’s Hiking Trails of the Smokies.   If you concentrate on hiking  the AT in the park, use Exploring the Appalachian Trail:  Hikes in the Southern Mountains, especially Hikes #18-#24.   The park officials have produced a video about encountering wildlife when hiking that anyone planning a hike in the park should see.   Day hikers and overnight backpackers should also read NPS advice for hikers.

Waterfalls:  Waterfalls are a favorite hiker’s destination. Waterfalls and Cascades of the Great Smoky Mountains is a useful guide to finding them.

Fishing:  The streams of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are attractive to anglers of all ages, especially  those who enjoy fly-fishing.   Three guides exist to fishing in the park:  Don Kirk, Fly-Fishing Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains; H. Lea  Lawrence, The Fly Fisherman’s Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park;  Jim Casada, Fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.   Casada grew up in Bryson City and has fished in the park all his life.

DVDs:  If you want to visit the park from your home, there are two videos available.  Exploring the Smokies takes the viewer on a four season tour of the park.  National Parks of the Appalachians includes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Shenandoah National Park.

2 thoughts on “GSNP Today

  1. I’ve enjoyed your GSMNP series, Stephen. It’s one of my favorite places. I have the Bill Lea books and they are some of my favorite books. Another wildflower guide that I’ve enjoyed is Great Smoky Mountain Wildflowers by Campbell. It has nice photographs and is small enough to carry with you.

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