About the Area
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky or Smokey Mountains, and the name is commonly shortened to the Smokies. The Great Smokies are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934, and, with over 9 million visits per year, it is the most-visited national park in the United States.
The name “Smoky” comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog, which is most common in the morning and after rainfall, is the result of warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico cooling rapidly in the higher elevations of Southern Appalachia.
The Great Smoky Mountains stretch from the Pigeon River in the northeast to the Little Tennessee River to the southwest. The northwestern half of the range gives way to a series of elongate ridges known as the “Foothills,” the outermost of which include Chilhowee Mountain and English Mountain. The range is roughly bounded on the south by the Tuckasegee River and to the southeast by Soco Creek and Jonathan Creek. The Great Smokies comprise parts of Blount County, Sevier County, and Cocke County in Tennessee and Swain County and Haywood County in North Carolina. The sources of several rivers are located in the Smokies, including the Little Pigeon River, the Oconaluftee River, and Little River. Streams in the Smokies are part of the Tennessee River watershed and are thus entirely west of the Eastern Continental Divide. The largest stream wholly within the park is Abrams Creek, which rises in Cades Cove and empties into the Chilhowee Lake impoundment of the Little Tennessee River near Chilhowee Dam. Other major streams include Hazel Creek and Eagle Creek in the southwest, Raven Fork near Oconaluftee, Cosby Creek near Cosby, and Roaring Fork near Gatlinburg. The Little Tennessee River passes through five impoundments along the range’s southwestern boundary, namely Tellico Lake, Chilhowee Lake, Calderwood Lake, Cheoah Lake, and Fontana Lake .
The Georgia Mountains Region or North Georgia mountains or Northeast Georgia is an area that starts in the northeast corner of Georgia, United States, and spreads in a westerly direction. The mountains in this region are in the Blue Ridge mountain chain that ends in Georgia. At over 1 billion years of age, the Blue Ridge mountains are among the oldest mountains in the United States and sometimes mistaken to be the oldest mountains in the world (in fact they are only about one third of the age of South Africa‘s 3.6 billion year old Barberton greenstone belt.). The mountains in this region are also a part of the vast system of North American mountains known as the Appalachian Mountains that spans most of the United States longitudally along the eastern areas of the nation and terminates in Alabama.
The region is known for its ruggedness and scenic beauty. The Cherokee who lived in these mountains called them Sah-ka-na’-ga – “The Great Blue Hills of God.” Large portions of the North Georgia mountains are included in the more than 750,000 acres (3,000 km2) that comprises the Chattahoochee National Forest.
The Great Balsam Mountains, or Balsam Mountains, are in the mountain region of western North Carolina, United States.The Great Balsams are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which in turn are a part of the Appalachian Mountains. The most famous peak in the Great Balsam range is Cold Mountain, which is the centerpiece of author Charles Frazier‘s bestselling novel Cold Mountain.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along its length and at Richland Balsam (milepost 431), the Parkway is at its highest point (6053 feet).