Archive for the ‘Great Smoky Mountains National Park’ Category

Park Hosts National Bat Week Program for Junior Rangers

Release Date: October 18, 2019

Contact: Florie Takaki,, 828-497-1905

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a Junior Ranger in honor of National Bat Week on Saturday, October 19, from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at the Oconaluftee Administration Building. Junior Ranger programs are designed for youth between the ages of 5 and 12, but all are welcome! This program is free and open to the public.

The park is home to 13 species of bats including the recently discovered gray bat, the federally endangered Indiana bat, and the federally threatened northern long-eared bat which was added to the list in February 2017 due to declines caused by White Nose Syndrome. Bats play a significant role in maintaining ecological balance as the primary predators of night-flying insects. Biologists estimate that an individual bat can eat between 3,000 to 6,000 insects each night including moths, beetles, and mosquitoes.

Youth between 8 and 12 years of age may sign up ahead of the program and participate in an additional activity, from 10:30 a.m. until noon, were they will have the opportunity to build their own bat box to take home. Supplies will be provided. The program is limited to 20 participants and spaces will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. Directions for building a box at home will be provided.

National Bat Week runs from October 24 and October 31. For more information about bats please visit the park website at


Park Volunteer Receives Regional Recognition

Release Date: September 25, 2019

Contact: Jamie Sanders,, 865-436-1203

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is pleased to announce that dedicated Park Volunteer, Jim Goddard, has won the National Park Service Southeast Regional Hartzog Award for Enduring Service. Mr. Goddard will be presented the Award in appreciation of his significant skills, talent, and time which he has shared with the park for well over two decades.

“We are so very pleased to announce Mr. Goddard as this year’s recipient of the prestigious regional Hartzog Award for Enduring Service,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash.  “Jim has provided a tremendous service to the visitors of the Smokies.  He has been instrumental in ensuring that visitors are able to safely navigate the park trail system and in the preservation of the park’s cultural history. His legacy will live on for generations to come and it is an honor to recognize him for his contributions.”

Jim has served continuously as a Volunteer-In-Park for more than 23 years.  His creation of iconic wooden signage allows hikers of all skill levels to safely explore the 850 miles of backcountry trails in the Smokies. He has created signs, performed trail maintenance, and helped restore and preserve fragile cultural resources. Jim’s craftsmanship has been applied to one-of-a-kind replicas of church benches, school desks, and tub mills. He creates custom shelving, educational tools, mile-marker posts, wayside exhibit carts, and display cases which can be enjoyed at park visitor centers and overlooks. Jim also personalizes wooden arrowheads to present to National Park Service employees as they transfer to other parks or leave the service for retirement.

In addition to Jim’s hands-on contributions, he offers services to the park community and to visitors in helping to plan, coordinate, and facilitate popular special events. Due to his stewardship, Jim was selected to serve as one of the official Ambassadors for the 75th Anniversary of GRSM. He assumed that role again in 2016 as part of the National Park Service Centennial celebrations.

This year, the park is pleased to also recognize three additional Volunteers-In-Park for their outstanding service contributions. They are Campground Hosts Clyde and Deborah Whitaker and Herbarium Assistant Janie Bitner.

Each year, Volunteers-In-Park perform a variety of activities at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These include: providing valuable visitor information, removing litter, eradicating invasive plant species, assisting with cultural demonstrations, participating in special events, providing practical support for visitors along roads and trails, assisting with data collection, maintaining backcountry campsites, helping biologists monitor wildlife populations and serving in the role of campground hosts. The park has well over 2,800 Volunteers who provide many hours of service to the national park every year. To learn more about Great Smoky Mountains National Park Volunteer-In-Park Program visit


Park Dedicates Dean Stone Bridge

Release Date: September 23, 2019

Contact: Jamie Sanders,, 865-436-1203

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials unveiled a bronzed marker along the Foothills Parkway at the newly dedicated Dean Stone Bridge between Walland and Wears Valley.

“Dean Stone was one of the park’s most dedicated advocates and we are honored to have the opportunity to pay tribute to his tireless efforts in creating support for the completion of the Foothills Parkway,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash.

Authorized by Congress on February 22, 1944, the Foothills Parkway is one of seven congressionally mandated parkways. The newest section, completed in 2018, includes a 1.65-mile section connected by nine bridges. Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman John Duncan introduced legislation to name the longest of these bridges after Dean Stone in honor of his dedication, advocacy, and persistence in securing support for the completion of the Foothills Parkway. The legislation was passed as part of the Dingell Act (P.L. 116 9) in 2019.

 Stone, longtime editor for The Daily Times in Maryville, TN, was a staunch supporter of the park and served for over 30 years as a Board Member and Chairman of the Governor-appointed Tennessee Park Commission before passing away in 2016.

The completion of the roadway was made possible due to a decades-long partnership among the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) of the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Park Service (NPS) at a total cost of $178 million. Funding for the final paving was provided through a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VIII grant secured by the Tennessee Department of Transportation along with $15 million from the State of Tennessee and $7 million through the NPS Federal Lands Transportation Program.

The Foothills Parkway now consists of two finished sections at either end of the 72-mile corridor. The western section now extends 33 continuous miles from Chilhowee to Wears Valley, offering a new recreational experience for motorists and cyclists. The eastern section, completed in 1968, extends 6 miles from Cosby to Interstate 40 presenting breathtaking views of Mt. Cammerer.

For more information about exploring scenic drives in the park, please visit the park’s website at




Park Hosts Mountain Life Festival

Release Date: September 4, 2019

 Contact: Florie Takaki, 828-497-1905,

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Mountain Life Festival near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at the Mountain Farm Museum on Saturday, September 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience traditional fall harvest activities on the farm including hearth cooking, apple butter making, blacksmithing, lye soap making, and food preservation. All activities are free and open to the public.

This event preserves the legacy of Appalachian mountainways and is a tribute to the many families who lived on lands that later become the national park. The spirit of cooperation that existed among families and neighbors is reflected throughout the activities. The Mountain Life Festival coincides with our monthly music jam sessions held on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. every first and third Saturday of the month.

The Mountain Farm Museum is located adjacent to the park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, two miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. The free event is supported by Great Smoky Mountains Association. For more information call the visitor center at 828-497-1904.



Park Hosts Star Gazing Event at Cades Cove

Release Date: September 3, 2019


Beth Bramhall,, 865-448-4123

Lisa Nagurny,, 865-448-4104

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a stargazing program in Cades Cove on Saturday, September 7, 2019 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Park rangers invite the public to escape the city lights and observe the natural night sky for an evening of viewing stars with equipment and instruction provided by the Smoky Mountain Astronomical Society.

Depending on visibility, visitors will experience close-up observations of the planet Jupiter and its moons, a quarter moon high in the sky, and several constellations. With night sky conditions protected in the park, the natural dark sky can be an awe-inspiring experience. In case of rain or cloud cover where night skies are not visible, the program will be cancelled.

All participants should park at the orientation shelter at the entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road. A park ranger will walk with the group one-half mile to a nearby field to the viewing location at dusk. The Cades Cove Loop Road is closed at sunset to motor vehicles and participants are not allowed to drive to the viewing site or to park along the Loop Road. Participants are expected to walk back to the parking area in the dark. Those planning to attend should wear comfortable walking shoes, dress warmly, and bring a flashlight.

Participants are also encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket for sitting, along with binoculars which can be used for stargazing. To preserve the integrity of the telescope lenses, smoking is not allowed near the site. Carpooling is strongly encouraged as parking is limited.

The program is subject to postponement due to rain or cloud cover. If the weather is questionable, participants should call the day of the event to confirm that the program will take place at 865-448-4122 or visit



Park Superintendent Recognizes First African American Naturalist

Contact: Dana Soehn,, 865-436-1207

On Thursday, August 29, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash had the unique opportunity to meet and recognize Dr. Joe Lee, of Jupiter, FL, for his service as the first African American Park Naturalist. Superintendent Cash presented Dr. Lee with a mounted ranger hat in honor of his contribution to the history of the National Park Service.

“We were overwhelmed with excitement when Dr. Lee reached out to park staff last week to share his recollections of working in the park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “His service fifty years ago broke employment barriers that once discouraged people of color from seeking employment in National Parks. He stepped bravely into unknown territory and paved a path for people like me to follow in his footsteps.”

The Superintendent also presented Dr. Lee with a framed photograph of all the park naturalists working in 1967, including two additional African Americans who are now deceased. Dr. Lee shared memories of his park service journey with high school students, public officials, and the media at an event held today at William T. Dwyer High School in Jupiter, FL.

“I am overwhelmed that officials from the park would come to see me in the twilight of my life and recognize me as a trailblazer by being the first African American Park Ranger Naturalist in the Smokies,” said Dr. Joe Lee. “I have a deep, abiding respect for Superintendent Cash for following up on the call I made about my time as a Park Ranger. Now, I have proof for my grandchildren and their children about my time in the Great Smokies.”

The park has recently embarked in an effort to better understand, share, and preserve the rich history of African Americans who lived in and around the southern Appalachian mountain region, both before and after the establishment of the park. Park officials held two community open house events in early August in Maryville, TN and Waynesville, NC to invite the public to share their personal experiences or family stories in an effort to better understand the collective African American experience in southern Appalachia. PhD Student, Adam McNeil, is the lead research assistant for the project and participated in an oral history interview with Dr. Lee which was captured on film by Great Smoky Mountains Association Videographer Valerie Polk.

The National Park Service (NPS) strives to preserve the history of all people across the nation. Through this important project, the park is uncovering untold stories of African Americans who visited, lived, and worked in this region. The research is supported by Great Smoky Mountains Association and Friends of the Smokies. For more information on how you can be involved, please contact Acting Resource Education Chief Susan Sachs at



The NPS commemorated the first landing of enslaved Africans 400 years ago in English-occupied North America at Virginia’s Point Comfort, now part of Fort Monroe National Monument on August 25, 2019. Throughout the next year, parks will host events to recognize and highlight 400 years of African American history and accomplishments. Civic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, and other organizations are invited to coordinate and participate in activities designed to expand the collective understanding and appreciation of African American contributions to the American experience. For more information, visit the NPS website at

Park and DLiA Host Smokies Species Day

Release Date: June 26, 2019

Contact:          Dana Soehn,, 865-436-1207
Todd Witcher,, 865-430-4757

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the non-profit partner Discover Life in America (DLiA) are celebrating the diversity of life in the park by hosting “Smokies Species Day” at Sugarlands Visitor Center on Saturday, June 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Attendees can learn about fungi, slime molds, beetles, moths, butterflies, and other creatures of the Smokies at this free, family-friendly event!

The event will be held outdoors on the patio area in front of the visitor center providing opportunities for people to tour the pollinator garden and participate in a hands-on citizen science program called Species SnapIt & MapIt which allows everyone to help gather scientific data about species encountered in the park. Researchers will also share how the ecosystem in fire-affected areas are recovering from the 2016 wildfires.

Smokies Species Day is centered on the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI), a partnership between the park and DLiA, which has been taking place in the park for more than 20 years. The ATBI is a concerted effort to discover and understand all the species inhabiting the 522,000-acre park habitat, including plants, fungi, birds, amphibians, insects, bacteria, and more. Over the life of the ATBI, there have been a variety of organisms discovered that are new records for the park, as well as over 1,000 species that are new to science.

This event and research efforts are partially supported by Friends of the Smokies. For more information about DLiA, please or



Public Affairs Office

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

107 Park Headquarters Road

Gatlinburg, TN  37738

Dana Soehn, 865-436-1207 (office), 865-712-4928 (mobile)

Jamie Sanders, 865-436-1203 (office), 865-410-2405 (mobile)

Park Hosts “Smokies Service Days”

Release Date: June 20, 2019

Contact:   Dana Soehn,, 865-436-1207

Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites the public to participate in “Smokies Service Days” beginning June 29 to help complete much needed work across the park. Park staff will lead these single-day volunteer opportunities that are ideal for people of all ages interested in learning more about the park through hands-on service.

Individuals, families, and groups are invited to sign up for any of the scheduled service projects that interest them including unique opportunities to help care for park campgrounds, native plant gardens, and a variety of natural and cultural resources. The program is ideal for those seeking to fulfill community service requirements including high school and college students, scout groups, and civic organizations. Volunteer projects will begin at 9:00 a.m. and last until 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Each project will be followed by an optional enrichment adventure to immerse participants in the abundant natural and cultural resources of the park.

Tools and safety gear, including gloves and high visibility safety vests, will be provided by park staff. Participants are required to wear closed-toe shoes and should bring water and snacks. Volunteers planning to stay for the optional enrichment activity must also bring a sack lunch.

Those interested in volunteering must contact Project Coordinator, Andrew Mentrup, at 865-436-1278, prior to the scheduled event date to register. Space may be limited.

Current service opportunities include:

June 29:            Cosby Campground Clean-Up
July 13:             Chimneys Picnic Area Clean-Up
July 27:             Elkmont Campground Clean-Up
August 17:       Cosby Horse Trail:  Clean-Up
September 14: Oconaluftee Visitor Center Flower Bed Maintenance
September 21: Sugarlands Visitor Center Non-Native Honeysuckle Removal
October 5:        Elkmont’s Daisy Town Clean-Up


Public Affairs Office

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN  37738
Dana Soehn, 865-436-1207 (office), 865-712-4928 (mobile)
Jamie Sanders, 865-436-1203 (office), 865-410-2405 (mobile)

Celebrating Cosby: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Release Date:  June 12, 2019
Contact:           Dana Soehn,, 865-436-1207

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials invite the public to attend “Celebrating Cosby: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” community programs on Fridays beginning June 14 through August 2 at the Cosby Campground Amphitheater. The programs honor the rich cultural and natural history of the Cosby area through music, storytelling, and history walks.

“These programs offer incredible opportunities for visitors to discover Cosby by experiencing it firsthand with the people who live and work here,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We are grateful to our friends from the local community who are leading these unique experiences.”

Programs feature local musicians, storytellers, craftsmen, and former residents who once lived in the park. Visitors are invited to step back in time during these summer programs to experience the music and mountain ways of people living in the Cosby area both then and now.

“We are so happy that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is bringing this program to our Cosby Campground,” said Cocke Country Partnership Tourist Director, Linda Lewanski. “We all know how talented our Cocke County folks are and we are delighted to be able to showcase them.”

All programs will be held at the Cosby Campground Amphitheater unless otherwise specified. In the event of rain, “Celebrating Cosby” programs will move to the covered picnic pavilion adjacent to Cosby Campground. Programs will be held rain or shine. Visitors are welcome to find seating in the amphitheater or bring their own chairs or blankets.

For more information, please contact Park Ranger Katie Corrigan at 865-436-1257 or

Program Schedule:

• June 14, 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Flag Day Ceremony at the Cosby Picnic Pavilion

Join William Cocke, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 102, Parrottsville Quilts of Valor Foundation, American Veterans Post 75, and American Legion Post 41 for a moving tribute to veterans buried at Tritt Cemetery including the placement of flags and roll call.


• June 14, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mountain Edge Band

Enjoy traditional bluegrass music featuring Judge Carter Moore, Andy Williams, Jamie Clark, and Limmie Workman.


 • June 21, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Moonshiners

Learn about making moonshine in the mountains featuring Mark Ramsey, Digger Manes, and Kelly Williamson.


• June 28, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Children of Cosby Yesterday and Today

Join Park Ranger Katie Corrigan and Ginger Sue Cantrell as they introduce visitors to hands-on learning experiences from the past to now with a visit to Mountain Rest School.


• July 5 at 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Celebrating Ella V. Costner

Enjoy stories of the famed “Poet Laureate of the Smokies,” Ella Costner, who grew up in Cosby before joining the army as a nurse and becoming a prolific writer. This evening will include a Presentation of Quilts of Valor.


• July 12 at 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A Walk Down Memory Lane

Join Imogene Wilson and Olie Williamson as they take on a walk remembering what the area looked like before the creation of the national park.


• July 19 at 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Cherokee Storytelling and Dance

Learn about the Cherokee culture stories through dance and storytelling featuring members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian.


• July 26 at 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. An Evening of Artifacts

Join Park Archaeologist Allison Harvey and local experts to dive into local history including discussions on hunting and firearms by Randall Bradly; spinning wheels by Shane McGaha and Judy McGaha; and the making of lye soap by Imogene Wilson.


• August 2 at 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Old-Timey Music with Richard Bennett
Enjoy traditional old-timey music with Richard Bennett who once played with Bill Monroe.



Media Opportunity:

What:    Program leaders are available to conduct interviews, either in studio or on site, to provide more information about upcoming programs.

When:   The media are welcome to attend any of the programs or to conduct pre-interviews before the program dates.

Contact: Please contact Park Ranger Katie Corrigan at 865-436-1257 or Cocke County Partnership Director Linda Lewankski at 423-625-9675 to coordinate interviews.

Public Affairs Office

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

107 Park Headquarters Road

Gatlinburg, TN  37738

Dana Soehn, 865-436-1207 (office), 865-712-4928 (mobile)

Jamie Sanders, 865-436-1203 (office), 865-410-2405 (mobile)

National Park Hosts Women’s Work Festival

Release Date: June 10, 2019
Contact:          Dana Soehn,, 865-436-1207

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Women’s Work Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum on Saturday, June 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The festival honors the vast contributions made by the women of Southern Appalachia. Park staff and volunteers will showcase mountain lifeways and customs that women practiced to care for their families in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

As part of the celebration, demonstrations among the historic buildings will include hearth cooking, soap making, cornshuck crafts, and use of plants for home remedies. Exhibits of artifacts and historic photographs will also provide a glimpse into the many and varied roles of rural women. The Davis-Queen house will be open for visitors to walk through with an audio exhibit featuring the last child born in the house.

In addition to the Women’s Work Festival activities, visitors will also be treated to a music jam session on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Music jam sessions are held every first and third Saturday of the month from May through October on the porch from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

All activities are free to the public. The Mountain Farm Museum is located on Newfound Gap Road adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For additional information call the visitor center at 828-497-1904.



Public Affairs Office

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

107 Park Headquarters Road

Gatlinburg, TN  37738

Dana Soehn, 865-436-1207 (office), 865-712-4928 (mobile)

Jamie Sanders, 865-436-1203 (office), 865-410-2405 (mobile)