The Great Smoky Mountains, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, get their name from the shroud of fog that often hovers around the range in the early mornings. Beneath the mist lies an ancient, alluring landscape full of biological and historical riches. The 187,000-acre expanse is a stomping ground for elk and black bears and, more unexpectedly, provides cover for an almost encyclopedic range of salamander species.
The Smokies are also home to a host of picturesque old grist mills, barns and other vestiges of southern Appalachian mountain heritage. In spring and summer, vibrant wildflowers accent the lush landscape, and from mid-October to early November, the Smokies' sugar maples and scarlet oaks blaze with fall colors.