As spring is sprung, Great Smoky Mountains National Park becomes fertile ground for a vivid variety of native wildflowers. In April, the park and the neighboring town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, will host the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, an annual affair dating back to 1951. During the four-day event, hundreds of visitors will participate in wildflower and natural history walks, photo tours, art classes, and seminars dedicated to the flowers and their habitats.
Ken McFarland, a University of Tennessee botanist who chairs the coalition that runs the gathering, has recommendations for where to spot these mountain beauties in the North Carolina section of the national park: the Cataloochee and Oconaluftee valleys and areas around Cosby, Kanati Fork Trail, and Deep Creek. However, he struggles to name a favorite wildflower. “It’s a good question,” he says, “but I’m amazed by all of them.”
Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage
Gatlinburg, TN, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park