What's happening: It's fall in the Smokies, and you can expect any kind of weather-from sunshine in Townsend to snow in the high country . With the clearer skies of the season, views from overlooks and scenic drives are spectacular. Bears are enjoying their winter sleep, but the males may occasionally come out and roam around a bit. See http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/black-bears.htm for more information. When you are hiking at any time of year, be prepared for changing conditions. Click here for weather info and links: Smokies Weather.
Be aware that Great Smoky Mountains National Park roads can be closed temporarily due to weather conditions, trees down, etc. Click here for Closures.
Interested in learning about the biodiversity in the Smokies? Check out Discover Life in America. This non-profit organization coordinates the scientific project called the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. Citizen scientists can help in the effort.
Are you a conservation-minded visitor? See the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority special green website for your low impact vacation: www.lowimpactvacation.com and click here for visitors' eco-tips!
Visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park? You can help out by reducing your carbon footprint!
Click here to find out more.
Natural features of the area:
Townsend is part of Tuckaleechee Cove, a beautiful valley at the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The name comes from the Cherokee and means "peaceful, green place". Tuckaleechee Cove, like Cades Cove and Wear Cove, was formed ages ago when mountain building forces pushed older layers of rock (slate and sandstone) on top of younger layers of rock (limestone). As time passed, weathering and erosion opened up the coves or "windows". So, geologic processes produced the lovely mountain valleys we see today and over time yielded productive lands for wildlife and for human settlement. To see the results of water flowing and dripping underground, visit Tuckaleechee Caverns.
Enjoy the wildlife and history of spectacular Cades Cove, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Want to learn as you go, enjoy the scenery, and let someone else drive? For a fun and educational trip led by a knowledgable guide in a comfortable, fuel efficient 19 passenger van, take the Cades Cove Heritage Tour, departing from Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. Call 865-448-0044.
Please note: The Cades Cove Loop Road has new pavement and renovated pull offs. Enjoy the Cove and also click here for other places to explore: Discover the Smokies Beyond Cades Cove.
Flowing out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with headwaters above Elkmont, is the Little River. Since the forests of the Smokies are a wonderful watershed, the stream is clean, cold, and clear. This means great opportunities for fishing, tubing, kayaking, and canoeing-or just splashing in the river!
The Townsend area has lots of green space, where people can stroll or bicycle along the pathways and enjoy views of wooded hills, fields and well-kept homes and gardens on the side roads. A handi-capped accessible picnic area is located by the Little River at the western end of bicycle path.
With a combination of open fields, forests, farms, and streams, Townsend, Tuckaleechee Cove, and surrounding areas are wonderful for bird watching. Ducks, geese, and herons swim and wade in the Little River, colorful warblers and other songbirds migrate through the tress in spring and fall, and the Foothills Parkway is a hawk migration route. Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is another excellent birding hotspot.
Wildflowers abound in the Smokies! From late February through the end of October, something is blooming--delicate blossoms of the forest floor, spectacular displays of azaleas, mountain laurel, and rhododendron, and the grand finale of the yellow, red, and purple blossoms of autumn. Download a "Blooming Calendar" to give you a general idea of flowering times:
Click here to download a Blooming Calendar.
And click here to find updates about fall color: http://www.thegreatsmokymountains.org/fall_leaf_color
To find out more about wildflowers, shrubs, and trees, visit the University of Tennessee Herbarium or the biodiversity investigations of Discover Life in America.
Click here for Seasonal Information to help you plan your visit to the Smokies.
There are some dramatic landforms in Blount County. Take a virtual tour of some waterfalls and rock formations.
Learn how scientists are surveying all living things in the Smokies with the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, coordinated by Discover Life in America.
Find out about how landowners in East Tennessee are voluntarily protecting their forests, streams, farms, and wildlife habitat for future enjoyment: Foothills Land Conservancy.
Visit a local farm: Liles Acres Organic Farm just east of Maryville, offers honey, eggs, and organic produce, plus group tours, classes and birthday parties. They also have llama packing trips, llama fiber, Angora rabbits, and more. www.lilesacres.com. 865-981-2871