Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Spring

Last week, I talked about some of my favorite national parks to visit in winter. There’s one park where I would wait until the flowers bloom, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 45 miles from Knoxville or 60 miles from Asheville, the Great Smoky Mountains are in bloom almost year round. There are more than 1,600 kinds of flowering plants within the boundaries of the park. These include the summer display of bright red cardinal flowers and purple-fringed orchids, and autumn’s bounty of goldenrod and sunflowers. Add flowering shrubs like mountain laurel, rhododendrons and flame azaleas, and trees like sourwood, that form bell-shaped white flowers that attract honey bees, and you understand why this wildflower-laden park is the best natural greenhouse in America. A good place to stop and smell the flowers is the self-guided Harwood Cove Nature Trail that begins at the Chimneys Picnic Area.