The Great Smoky Mountains are located on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina and run from the Pigeon River to the Little Tennessee River. The range is home to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which was established in 1934 and now hosts over 11 million visitors per year.
The Great Smoky Mountains are part of an International Biosphere Reserve and have been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the region, there are approximately 187,000 acres of old growth forest, the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi River. It is home to hardwood forests as well as spruce-fir forests, which are ideal habitats for black bears. The Great Smoky Mountains host the densest population of these bears in the eastern US. Interestingly, the forests are also home to the most diverse salamander population outside the tropics.
The Great Smoky Mountains earned their name from the mist and fog that usually blankets the valleys and other lower elevations. This is due to the heavy annual rainfall the mountains receive and the relatively warm temperatures. Combined with sunrises and sunsets, the "smoke" makes for beautiful views visitors don't soon forget.