spring 2016 smokies guide newspaper

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park's spring 2016 newspaper.




    Listen for the delightful

    song of this vireo at the

    higher elevations of the

    Great Smoky Mountains. It

    sounds like Jimmy...come


    Blue-Headeds are the

    first vireo to arrive in the

    Smokies in spring (mid-

    March) and the last to leave

    in fall (late October). Their

    distinctive nests look like

    a small sack hung from a

    forking branch.

    Wildflower Auto ToursSeveral roads in the na-tional park provide good spring wildflower viewing from your car. See the map on pages 8-9 for more infor-mation. Please be safe and courteous by using pullouts along roadways to view wild-flowers and wildlife.LATE MARCH TO EARLY MAY

    Little River RoadThis paved, winding, and scenic 17 mile route runs between Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Townsend Y (near the Townsend entrance to the park). Plants in bloom include fringed phacelia, columbine, bloodroot, fire pink, red bud, flowering dogwood, wild ge-ranium, yellow trillium, and white trillium. Roaring Fork Motor Na-ture Trail (opens March 25)Whats a motor nature trail? A hybrid between a trail and

    a road, or as former Super-intendent Overly described it, a nature trail for motor-ists. This one starts outside Gatlinburg, at the end of Cherokee Orchard Road (see pages 8-9). The paved, steep, narrow, winding one-way road is 5 miles long. It offers motorists not only some of the best views of wildflowers in the park, but also access to historic grist mills, log homes, farmsteads, and waterfalls.MID- TO LATE MAY

    Clingmans Dome Road (opens April 1)This sev-en-mile paved road runs through the Smoky Mountain high country from Newfound Gap to near the summit of Clingmans Dome. Plants in bloom include service-berry, fire cherry, silverbell, fringed phacelia, trout-lily, thyme-leaved bluets, and spring-beauty.

    Bluets start their bloom in May in the Great Smokies (see page 10).


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    What is getting born thisspring in the Great Smoky Mountains? Bear cubs were born in their dens during mid-winter; they usually emerge with mom sometime in April or early May. Fresh from the den, cubs are tiny, weighing only four to seven pounds. By fall they

    will grow to 30-50 pounds. Other charismatic Smok-ies animals, white-tailed deer and elk, breed in fall but dont drop their fawns and calves until June. The following is an ap-proximate birthing schedule for Smokies wildlife born in the spring.

    Spring Brings Out BabyAnimals in the Smokies

    Opossums are marsupials that nurse their young in an abdominal pouch. It takes about three months for the joeys to be weaned.


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    Virginia Opossum March-May 4-15 JoeysGray Fox March-April 3-4 PupsBarred Owl March-May 2-4 Chicks

    Long-tailed Weasel April-May 4-5 PupsMink April-May 1-10 KitsCoyote April-May 5-10 PupsRiver Otter April-May 2-3 PupsStriped Skunk April-May 5-7 KitsGroundhog April-May 2-6 KitsLouisiana Waterthrush May 3-4 ChicksBobcat May 2-3 KittensSouthern Flying Squirrel May 2-7 PupsBeaver May 1-6 Kits


    SPECIAL EDITION Happy Birthday


    The Official Newspaper of Great Smoky Mountains National ParkSpring 2016

    Free Ranger-Guided Programs

    Please see pages 12-13

  • 2 v smokies guide, Spring 2016

    smokies trip plannerto order maps and guides: www.SmokiesInformation.org

    smokies guide

    Smokies Guide is produced four times per year by Great

    Smoky Mountains Asso-ciation and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    Publication dates are roughly as follows:

    SPRING: March 15SUMMER: June 1

    AUTUMN: September 1WINTER: December 1

    Contributing EditorSteve Kemp

    nPS CoordinatorStephanie SuttonEditorial board

    Joy AbsherCoralie Bloom

    Lynda DoucetteKristine Johnson

    Mike MaslonaMolly Moore

    Laurel RematoreContributors

    liSa HorStman, KarEn KEy

    2016 Great Smoky Mountains Association

    GSMAP.O. Box 130

    Gatlinburg, TN 37738

    printed on recycled paper

    The National Park Service maintains developed camp-grounds at nine locations in the park. There are no show-ers or hookups other than circuits for special medical uses at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont. Campsites at Elkmont, Smokemont, Cataloochee, Cosby, and Cades Cove may be reserved. For reser-vations call 1-877-444-6777 or contact www.recreation.gov. Sites may be reserved up to six months in advance. Reservations are required at Cataloochee Campground. Other park campgrounds are first-come, first-served. Site occupancy is limited to six people and two vehicles (a trailer = 1 vehicle). The maximum stay is 14 days. Special camping sites for large groups are available sea-sonally at Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont. Group sites must be reserved. Call 1-877-444-6777 or contact www.recre-ation.gov. Group sites may be reserved up to one year in advance.

    The list below shows number of sites, elevations, fees, approximate 2016 opera-tion dates, and maximum RV lengths. Dates are subject to change. Visit www.nps.gov/grsm for current information.ABRAMS CREEK 16 sites, elev. 1,125, $14, open May 27-Oct. 10, 12 trailersBALSAM MOUNTAIN 46 sites, elev. 5,310, $14, open May 27-Oct. 10, 30 RVsBIG CREEK 12 sites, elev. 1,700, $14, open April 8-Oct. 31, tents onlyCADES COVE 159 sites, elev. 1,807, $17-$20, open year-round, 35-40 RVsCATALOOCHEE 27 sites, elev. 2,610, $20, open March 25-Oct. 31, reserva-tions required, 31 RVsCOSBY 157 sites, elev. 2,459, $14, April 8-Oct. 31, 25 RVsDEEP CREEK 92 sites, elev. 1,800, $17, open April 8-Oct. 31, 26 RVsELKMONT 220 sites, elev. 2,150, $17-$23, open March 11-Nov. 27, 32-35 RVsLOOK ROCK ClosedSMOKEMONT 142 sites, elev. 2,198, $17-$20, open year-round, 35-40 RVs

    Most park roads are too narrow and heavily traveled by automobiles for safe or enjoyable bicycling. However, Cades Cove Loop Road is an exception. This 11-mile, one-way, paved road pro-vides bicyclists with excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife and historic sites. Helmets are required for persons age 16 and under and are strongly recommended for all bicyclists. From May 11-Sept. 21, on Wednesday and Satur-day mornings from sunrise to 10:00 a.m., only bicycles and pedestrians are allowed on Cades Cove Loop Road. Bicycles may be rented at the Cades Cove Campground store.

    Le Conte Lodge (accessible by trail only) provides the only lodging in the park. Call (865) 429-5704. For information on lodg-ing outside the park:Bryson City 1-800-867-9246Cherokee 1-828-788-0034Fontana 1-800-849-2258Gatlinburg 1-800-588-1817Maggie Valley 1-800-624-4431Pigeon Forge 1-855-716-6199Sevierville 1-888-889-7415Townsend 1-800-525-6834

    Pets are allowed in frontcoun-try campgrounds and beside roads as long as they are restrained at all times. Pets are not allowed on park trails, except for the Gatlinburg and Oconaluftee River trails. Dogs on these trails must be leashed.

    pets in the park

    road openings

    special events

    other services

    visitor centers

    picnic areas

    camping in the the national park



    Please see pages 8-9 for loca-tions of picnic areas. Chim-neys opens March 12, Collins Creek opens April 1; Cosby and Big Creek open April 8. Heintooga opens May 27. Look Rock is closed. All other picnic areas are open year-round. All have charcoal grills for cooking.

    The following roads close for the winter. Listed below are the 2016 opening dates. Roaring ForkMarch 25Clingmans DomeApril 1Parson BranchApril 8Balsam MtnMay 27

    April 19-April 23Spring Wildflower Pilgrim-age: parkwide

    May 21Cosby in the Park: Cosby

    June 18Womens Work at OconalufteeMountain Farm Museum

    There are no gas stations, showers, or restaurants in the national park. Mt. LeConte Lodge is the only lodging.

    Spring hours of operation are, Oconaluftee & Sugarlands: 8-5 in March; 8-6 in April & May. Cades Cove: 9-6:30 in March; 9-7 in April; 9-7:30 in May. Clingmans Dome: 10-6.

    Nine campgrounds will be open in the national park this year.

    Bicycle morning in Cades Cove.


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  • smokies guide, Spring 2016 v 3

    park informationfor additional information, visit www.nps.gov/grsm

    Fishing is permitted year-round in the park, but a Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license is required. Either state license is valid throughout the park and no trout stamp is required. A special permit is required for the Cherokee Reservation and Gatlinburg. Licenses are avail-able in nearby towns. Fishing with bait is prohibited. A free fishing map with a complete list of all park fish-ing regulations is available at visitor centers.

    Camping at a backcountry campsite or shelter can be an exciting adventure for per-sons properly equipped and informed. To facilitate this ac-tivity, the National Park Ser-vice maintains over 800 miles of trails and more than 100 backcountry campsites and shelters throughout the park. One of the greatest challenges for backcountry campers is deciding where to go. Here are some tools to help. 1. Go online to view the parks official trail map (www.nps.gov/grsm/plan-yourvisit/maps.htm), which shows all park trails, camp-sites, and shelters. Park rules and regulations are also listed here. If you wish, you can purchase the printed version of the trail map for $1 by stop-ping at any park visitor center or calling (865) 436-7318 x226 or shopping online at www.SmokiesInformation.org.2. Call or stop by the parks backcountry office, which is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The office is