Leaders of the United Nations chose this day, December 11, to bring attention to the importance mountains play in our everyday life. A quarter of the earth’s surface juts with mountains of all shapes and sizes, providing fresh water for over half of the world’s population, a plethora of minerals, and habitats enabling biodiversity and minerals. As perpetrators of climate change and resources for goods like honey, cocoa, herbs and spices, the mountains prominently influence people’s lives around the globe whether we are aware of it or not.
Each year, a theme is chosen. Peace, climate change and freshwater have been previous themes. This year celebrates mountain products that spark the economy and fuel sustainable mountain development projects. Celebrate International Mountain Day! How about exploring the Great Smoky Mountains extending from North Carolina into Tennessee?
The Great Smoky Mountains
About 300 million years ago, the Great Smoky Mountains formed as some of the oldest mountains in the world, entailing 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail winding through abundant biodiversity. High latitudes provide ideal climates for animals common in northern states who escaped the last ice age. Below the mountain heights, a wide range of animals in the ‘lowlands’ thrive.
Mammals are not the only creatures dwelling in the Great Smoky Mountains. Known as the “Salamander Capitol of the World,” over 30 sorts of these squiggly amphibians slither the land, among 43 other amphibian species, 39 reptiles, 200 birds and 67 fish. More kinds of trees than any National Park in North America grow within the 800 square miles of the Great Smoky Mountains, and over 1,600 types of wildflowers blossom! The Great Smoky Mountains contain every sort of wild and plant life to suit anyone’s possible interests.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the Great Smoky Mountains is the largest park east of the Rockies. It is the most visited National Park in North America. Over 2 million people visit each year, double the average of any other parks in the United States. Note: admission is free. Endless adventures entertain explorers of all ages. 550 trails adept for horseback riders, Cades Cove, the beloved valley with pioneer homesteads, hiking trails and an old mill, and Clingman’s Dome, the highest peak reaching 6,643 feet are just a few of the special places one can enjoy.
Clingman’s Dome does not stand alone as a mighty mountain – 16 other mountains reach over a whopping 6,000 feet also. However, Clingman’s Dome is the most popular and for good reason; on a clear day, the short, vertical hike to the precipice of the dome provides a 360 degree view of SEVEN states!
What better way is there to endorse mountains’ significance than to absorb the picturesque Great Smokies? Purchase local mountainous produce and natural remedies to remember this heavenly place for years to come. And the next time you see heavy, blue fog sifting atop the mountains after a rainy day, remember… You’re in the Great Smoky Mountains!
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