Swain officials want more face time with park superintendent

fr tunnelgraffitiSwain County officials are hoping new leadership in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park means the start of a new relationship — one that will include better communication between the park and the county that is a gateway community. 

Welcome to the better side of the Smokies

fr cashThe new Smokies superintendent got his introduction to the North Carolina side of the park amid plates of snacks and the homey trappings of a bed and breakfast in Bryson City last week.

Life on LeConte: Winter on the top demonstrates the harshness and beauty of nature

out frSipping hot tea while swaddled beside a propane heater, warmth beaming as wind whips snowflakes around the mountaintop outside. A stack of books beside the bed, well-worn titles alongside new adventures, a self-replenishing treasure trove of stories illuminated by kerosene-fueled light. Outside, darkness obscuring what dawn will reveal to be an ocean-like view of mountains upon mountains, frosted with snow and seeming to bow before the 6,594-foot peak of Mount LeConte, the third highest summit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It’s a romantic image, an idyll about which a society steeped in virtual reality is still wont to fanaticize. But for the past four winters, those cozy evenings and frostbitten mornings have been J.P. Krol’s life.

Lost or found? Viral article about ‘forgotten’ Smokies town raises eyebrows

out fr2A lot of people familiar with Great Smoky Mountains National Park got a surprise earlier this month when an article began making the rounds online claiming that a hiker had discovered an abandoned town in the middle of the park.

“Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted how much land there is in America. Sure, it’s harder and harder to find places that haven’t been explored, but it’s also become easier to forget places that we’ve already been. Kind of like the entire friggin’ town in the middle of Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” read the lead of an article featured on road trip planning site Roadtrippers, later reposted in The Huffington Post. 

Synchronous fireflies draw thousands to the Smokies

coverIt’s a little after 7 p.m. when the first trolley shows up to Elkmont Campground. Green, red and yellow, the flashy Gatlinburg transit vehicle seems a bit out of place in the backwoods greenery of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but so, too, do the crowds of people that pour out of it.  

People bearing fold-up chairs, blankets and cameras. People with North Face and Patagonia strapped to their backs, and people toting oversized purses and tote bags. Children, teenagers, parents, retirees. People who are always in and out of the National Parks, and people who have probably never set foot in one in their lives.

The Cataloochee exodus: Story of picturesque valley’s transformation captured in new film

coverRaymond Caldwell was 15 years old when he hitched up a team of horses to a wagon with 30 bushels of corn in tow, leaving the only home he and his ancestors had ever known in the idyllic Cataloochee Valley. 

“I drove the wagon all over the farm, but that was the first time I ever drove it out of there,” said Raymond. It was a high stakes assignment, since the load represented the fall corn harvest and needed to last the family and livestock through the winter at the new farm they were heading to across Haywood County.

WCU will digitize historic Smokies photos

out frWestern Carolina University’s Hunter Library will produce a new digital collection of 2,000 items focused on the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with support from a $93,000 grant from the North Carolina State Library.

“The park certainly has an amazing and well-cared-for archive, but it’s locked away,” said Anne Fariello, associate professor of digital initiatives with Hunter Library. “We will be digitally preserving and increasing access to material that is important, not only to the development of the park, but also to the region.”

Turned Away: Visitors, residents barred from national park

coverWhen Joe and Dolly Parker approached the entrance of the Deep Creek campground Tuesday morning, the sign read “Office Closed.”

“We can’t believe this,” Dolly said.

A retired couple from Key Largo, Fla., the Parkers spend upwards of five months each year traveling and camping around the country. Joe rides his motorcycle, with Dolly following behind in their campervan. Amid of all their stops, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of their favorites. 

Rare mountain tornado damages GSMNP

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado formed during an afternoon of thunderstorms and high winds that ripped through Western North Carolina two weeks ago.

Great Smoky Mountains Association looks back

out gsmaThe Great Smoky Mountains Association has turned 60 years old, and although it has changed during the years, its mission has remained the same.

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