Word from the Smokies: At 50, Endangered Species Act continues to protect life in the park

It’s no secret that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hotspot of biological diversity. Not only does it offer a range of environmental conditions to support plant and animal life, no ocean or glacier has disturbed it for over a million years, giving species lots of time to evolve.

Word from the Smokies: Park volunteer makes big impact on visitor safety

“I’m just a backwoods guy,” Bill Gober says. “I try to stay out of the limelight.” 

Word from the Smokies: New book features letters from park archives

Most people come to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for its scenic vistas, waterfalls and wildlife — seeking an escape to the great outdoors.

Word from the Smokies: Fall glamping eco-adventure supports biodiversity nonprofit

By Hayley Benton

Contributing Writer

As the lush green hues of summer fade, yielding to the crisp crimson colors of autumn, the Great Smoky Mountains undergo a breathtaking transformation. Under the canopy, golden sunlight filters through a kaleidoscope of leaves, casting a warm, ethereal glow on the landscape. Small animals ‘shuffle-crunch-snap’ through the leaf litter, gathering fallen nuts and overripe berries in preparation for the long winter ahead.

Word from the Smokies: Dykeman namesake among three new Smokies spiders

By Frances Figart • Contributing writer | Although the word “spider” may elicit a “yuck” or an “ew” from many readers, the true nature of these oft-feared critters is not as icky as one might suppose. Arachnids provide essential services for humans and play key roles in balancing our ecosystems by keeping herbivorous insects in check.

Word from the Smokies: Training Essential to Park’s Search and Rescue

On a mid-September morning, 14 men and women gather at an abandoned quarry off U.S. 441 a mile or so south of Sugarlands and confront a vertical stone wall that looms 15 feet above them. The sheer rock face culminates in a gently sloping bench that extends 30 feet before reaching another nearly vertical 15-foot cliff.

Word from the Smokies: Discover Life in America presents conservation author on Earth Day

Doug Tallamy had been teaching at the University of Delaware for a quarter of a century when he had an epiphany: People who want to do something good for the planet have the ability to effect change immediately by choosing plants that share their energy with other beings, as opposed to those that don’t. And they get to see positive results in real time in their own yards.

African American Project lead reflects on 2022, plans for 2023

Who were they? How did they get here? What were their lives like? These are questions that constantly resonate with me when I gaze upon clouds and mountains and dare to consider the 9,000 years of human history that lie untold within this region that we call home.

Word from the Smokies: Inaugural event shows that Elkmont is not a ghost town

If you’ve been to the Elkmont Historic District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ve probably come across a gathering of vacant buildings — many with wide porches, stone chimneys and wooden shutters.

Word from the Smokies: The staying power of Smokey Bear

Many people of a certain age have a special affection for Smokey Bear, or “Smokey the Bear,” as he has also been called.

Page 1 of 2
Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.