Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on April 18, 2023
The great outdoors is starting to get a lot more colorful than it was just a few weeks ago. Tree canopies are budding into their green fullness, and flowering trees like Bradford pears and dogwoods have already seen their annual blooms come and go. However, throughout the Great Smoky Mountains, wildflowers of abundant species and colors are either in bloom or will be at some point in the next couple of months. It's wildflower season in the Smokies, and if you'd like to know more about what to see and where, continue reading.
Did you know that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants - more than are found in any other North American national park? A group of flowers known as spring ephemerals start the show, emerging between February and April and then going dormant by May or June. In fact, they make their appearances before the trees leaf out. Specific plants include trillium (there are 10 different species of these in the national park), lady slipper orchids, showy orchids, crested dwarf iris, columbine, violets and many more.
As we mentioned, we also have showy trees in the Smokies. From February through April, you'll see the brilliant reds of red maple flowers, while trees like the silverbell, redbud, tuliptree and the aforementioned dogwoods (both white and pink) hit their stride.
However, the Smokies may best be known for their many varieties of flowering shrubs. The bright yellow blossoms of the spicebush begin to bloom in February and are soon joined by sweetshrub, dog-hobble and flame azalea. Most famously, the park's pink and white mountain laurels bloom in early May through June, while the Catawba rhododendron doesn't achieve its peak blooms until June. Flame azaleas bloom at the low and middle elevations in April and May, but on Gregory Bald, the higher elevation makes it possible for them to delay their peak colors until late June and even early July.
Anyone interested in witnessing these colorful spectacles of nature need only visit the national park and head out on a hiking trail or nature walk. But if you'd prefer a little bit of knowledge to back up your sightseeing, consider attending this year's Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, which runs April 26 through 29 at various locations inside the park. This will be the 73rd edition of the pilgrimage, which features a host of guest speakers and artists as well as on-site outings to various locations within the park itself. This year's guest speakers include Bill Landry, whom East Tennesseans will remember as the long-time host of WBIR-TV's The Heartland Series.
The outdoor hikes and treks take place at destinations throughout the park and are led by knowledgeable guides. Titles of programs include Bird Banding Basics, Native People's use of Nature's Garden, Black Bear and Wild Hogs in the Smokies, Moss Walk, Trees and Wildflowers of Metcalf Bottoms and many, many more. Attendees gather at park sites like the Chimneys, Twin Creeks, Jakes Creek, Elkmont, Cucumber Gap Trail and Cosby Picnic Area, just to mention a few. Events are scheduled throughout each day and, on some days, into the evening. In all, dozens and dozens of options are available to those interested in learning more about the areas wildflowers specifically and flora and fauna in general.
Another fun way to see all the wildflowers in bloom this season is to ride a zip line. Gatlinburg, TN and Pigeon Forge are home to our attraction, Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Our wooded mountaintop setting is really filling out with greenery and color this time of year, so come join us for a bird's-eye view of it all.