Great Smoky Mountains National Park Environmental Factors

Among the oldest mountains in the world and the highest in the Appalachian chain, the Smokies have been both a daunting obstacle and a source of inspiration since the earliest people set foot on the mountains' slopes. But long before humans arrived, geologic processes, climatic shifts, weather, and fire shaped this environment, producing an ever-changing ecosystem. More recently, human-caused factors such as air and water pollution and non-native species have had a significant impact on natural resources-both here and worldwide.

The further impacts on the park of ten million human visits each year are only just beginning to be measured and mitigated. Scientists are striving to better understand these impacts on the park's ecosystem. Park staff carefully monitor threats such as air pollution and destructive non-native species and endeavor to implement proactive measures to preserve the park's valuable resources.

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Featured Park
Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park where you can explore over two hundred miles of trails, float the Snake River or enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place.
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The pika is a close relative of the rabbits and hares, with two upper incisors on each side of the jaw, one behind the other. Being rock-gray in color, pikas are seldom seen until their shrill, metallic call reveals their presence.