We hope you get a chance to explore the tranquil beauty of our public lands this weekend!
This picture is of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park. On the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers something for everyone — from more than 800 miles of hiking trails to fishable streams and beautiful waterfalls.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains some of the largest tracts of wilderness in the East and is a critical sanctuary for a wide variety of animals. Protected in the park are some 65 species of mammals, over 200 varieties of birds, 67 native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians.
The symbol of the Smokies, the American Black Bear, is perhaps the most famous resident of the park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides the largest protected bear habitat in the East. Though populations are variable, biologists estimate approximately 1,500 bears live in the park, a density of approximately two bears per square mile.
Photo: Charlie Choc (www.sharetheexperience.org)
There have been many reports of bear sightings in Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently. If you see a bear, please remember that for your safety, and the bear’s safety, you need to stay at least 150 feet away from the animal. For more information about what to do if you see a bear, check out http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/black-bears.htm, where you can find links to a video about bear safety.
This photo by Sam Hobbs taken with a telephoto lens and cropped to make the cub appear closer.
There have been some beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the past few days in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These times also happen to be the best times to see wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, in Cades Cove.
Photo: Sunset in Cades Cove by Kristina Plaas, © 2014 All Rights Reserved.
Snow fell earlier this week in the middle and high elevations of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This photo was taken on Sparks Lane in Cades Cove late last March, but you could have captured pretty much the same scene if you had visited the cove early this week! ©2013 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved.
Tom Turkeys are gobbling and strutting now as the courtship season begins in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You may encounter the birds displaying along park roadways, so please slow down and watch for wildlife—and other visitor’s cars stopped due to wildlife! Be especially cautious when going around blind curves. As this photo shows, sometimes the birds will display right in the center of the roadway… and they are NOT interested in moving out of your way anytime soon!
The gobbles of male turkeys can be heard almost a mile away. When displaying, males droop their wings until the tips almost drag on the ground and spread their tails wide. Courtship season lasts from March until May.
Photo: Displaying turkeys block US-441 between Gatlinburg and Sugarlands Visitor Center.