The Great Smoky Mountains

So much beauty, so much to see and do…every season.


DSC03229Ripley's Aquarium





























These beautiful Caldera, Lake and Mountainous areas are exactly what I expected and nothing of what I expected. The Tetons are bold, young, beautiful and still growing (only 10,000 years old). They are covered in glaciers and surrounded by glacier created flats, rivers and lakes; created by the last three ice ages. Yellowstone is stationed on a vastly large caldera filled with lakes, rivers, water falls, geysers, hot springs, pools and other volcanic features. Both are home to many endangered and dangerous creatures. More on these two wonderful places in following blogs—much more.

This blog is for my love of the wild flowers, grasses and trees. Eighty percent of the trees covering this area are called Lodge Pole Pine. There are no hard woods except the occasional white barked Aspen; very occasional. These pines produce a cone whose seeds are glued in and will not product until burned, so the forest fires are their only hope for reproduction.  When we came over the mountain pass in early June with my granddaughter (from south Louisiana) she sat up, looking out the windshield and said, “Oh my God, I have never seen so many trees on one place in all my life!”.  It is awe inspiring (to use an much over used word, but true).

I have lived most of my life within a few miles for the Natchez Trace. It is a National Scenic Trail managed by the U.S. National Park Service. It runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. I mention this because the Park Service cuts the grass along the route and in some of the meadows. I am pleased to say that is not the cast here in these two National Parks (I am sure in the great wisdom of our park service there is a good reason for cutting this grass). However, I am here to tell you, grass left alone is beyond beautiful. It grows to two, plus feet tall and produces bowing grain heads. It is hard to look at the areas above ground level as we drive around because these parks are filled with these magnificent trees, grasses and an abundance of wild flowers. Some of these actually grow within a few feet of these marvelous and often passionate hot springs. I am sure they all have beautiful names and I can correctly or incorrectly identify them, but I am going to allow the pictures themselves to do all the talking from here on.

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The Hills Are Alive With . . . Wild Flowers and Happy Critters

tree at guard gate

Orange and red trumpet flower on a small tree taken by Bubba McClary

This blog post will be mostly photographs.  The wild flowers in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park are a riot of diversity, color, fragrance and size.  There are many bears with cubs, making their debut.  Deer, Elk, Turkey, Rabbits, Squirrel, Ground Hogs and so much more.  If I did not add a name to the picture of the flower, it is because I am clueless as to what they are called. I have never seen many of these before.  I have been told that I can buy a book at the ranger station to help me identify them and (naturally) I will.  I am so thankful our National Parks are preserving these.  I did not take all these pictures, as it takes time and equipment I do not have, but I will give credit to those wonderful photographers, who trek into these woods.  Enjoy!

chreeping phlox

Creeping Phlox

Gwen Cross Photography1

Gwen Cross photography

Gwen Cross2

Gwen Cross Photography

Orchid Gwen Cross

Orchid by Gwen Cross Photography

Trillium Gwen Cross

Trillium by Gwen Cross Photography


Wild Rhododendron


Mountain Laurel


Ornamental Maple (not native, but planted here in abundance)


Some type of wild Magnolia


Cantilever Barn in Cade’s Cove


Mushrooms grown here and harvested from the woods here

wild azalea

Wild Azalea. Photo by Hank McClary

sweet shurb

Sweet Shrub. Often planted near cabin windows for their fragrance (back when we slept with windows open)

Lady Slipper2

Lady Slipper. Photo by Gwen Cross


This is not wisteria, it is a flowering tree and the fragrance is divine.


Red Bud



wildflower 3

Orchid by Sharon McClary

wild flower 2

Some type of wild Iris (?)




More mushrooms (for sale)

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Spring … Actually Lasting longer than ONE week.

FEATURED IMAGE BY Doug McPherson Photography of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TGSMNP).

I have lived in Mississippi and Louisiana most of my life.  Spring is always the nicest WEEK of the year.  In some places, (like way-south Louisiana) it is the nicest DAY of the year.  Winter is nice, but wet a third of the time, cold a third of the time and warm the last third of the time (honest)…with the occasional tornado mixed in.

Let me testify:  Spring in East Tennessee is heaven, TRULY.  Wild flowers, dogwoods, redbuds, multi-greens as the trees leaf out, rain, sweet breezes, fragrances, day temps under 75 degrees Fahrenheit (often way under), night temps 40s & 50s.  The world is new and fresh every morning . . . for more than a week (honest)!  Pollen is not as heavy (?).  Pine pollen in Mississippi is heavy and turns EVERYTHING green for a month.

Photos taken in the last several days of Knoxville (the dogwood and the cherry blooms were almost gone, but oooooh the Azaleas), TGSMNP, and an attraction (new to us) called Parrot Mountain and Gardens (web link below).

Ornamental Japanese Maple Every yard on the trail had at least one or at least one weeping maple.

Ornamental Japanese Maple
Every yard on the trail had at least one or at least one weeping maple.

Cherry blooms were mostly on the ground, pink pavement, oh my!

Cherry blooms were mostly on the ground, thick-pink pavement, oh my!

Oh how the English do their pomp and circumstance!

English Dogwood:  Oh how the English do their pomp and circumstance!

Stately Southern Dogwood Knoxville, TN

Stately Southern Dogwood
Knoxville, TN

Azalea Riot in the Knoxville Dogwood Festival Trails

Azalea Riot on the Knoxville Dogwood Festival Trails

Rhododendron (lavender)

Rhododendron (lavender)

Rhododendron (red)

Rhododendron (red)

We were greeted with bird, “hellos”, and had them eating out of our hands. . .climbing on our backs, arms, shoulders, heads and pulling on my earrings.  We had smiles the entire tour.

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