Unsung heroes of the Smokies: Camp hosts Nancy and Bob Furlow

Nancy and Bob Furlow in their park camp host uniforms.

When they drove into Smokemont Campground earlier this year, Nancy and Bob Furlow had never been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As full-time RVers, the couple, married for over three decades, thought Smokemont would be just another stop on their long-running tour across the country. “We noticed that the whole time we were here, […]

Yellow Jeep represents friendship for three Smokies lovers

Carol Treiber and Alice Ann Sargeant next to the yellow jeep.

The experience of being in nature on our public lands consistently inspires creativity, no matter the time of life. Over the past few years, I’ve become friends with GSMA member Carol Treiber, who is 88, and receiving the correspondence she sends from assisted living in Bryson City has been a constant source of joy. Carol […]

Serving the Smokies: Barry Hipps looks back on 35 years of GSMA

Barry Hipps currently works at Oconaluftee Visitor Center as a volunteer at the information desk on Mondays and part-time seasonally in the store.

A lifelong connection to the Smokies is woven into Barry Hipps’ legacy of service. Thirty-five years ago, Hipps sat on the board of directors for Great Smoky Mountains Association, then known as Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, and later returned to the organization to become a long-time member of GSMA’s retail team. Hipps comes […]

What are mycorrhizal fungi?


Often overlooked and underappreciated, fungi fulfill diverse ecological roles in nature. They act as decomposers, breaking down dead plant and animal material and returning vital nutrients to ecosystems. They form mutualistic partnerships, benefiting a wide range of organisms from plants to animals. Some fungi even exhibit parasitic behavior, attacking living organisms to steal nutrients and […]

70 years of partnership: Trio of leaders reflects on GSMA legacy

Steve Kemp, Kent Cave, and Terry Maddox were colleagues working together in the realms of GSMA and the National Park Service during an important period of growth for the association. The trio gathered in September 2022 to share memories of their experiences as GSMA prepared for its 70th year of service to the National Park Service in 2023. Provided by Great Smoky Mountains Association.

In 2023, GSMA celebrates its 70th year of continuous operations supporting Great Smoky Mountains National Park—a major milestone that has us looking back to chart the evolution of the organization and the work it has accomplished over that time. An interview with the late Terry Maddox along with Steve Kemp and Kent Cave in the fall […]

Park stores a destination for books, caps, T-shirts, and—of course—bears!

Tasked with a mission to preserve our country’s most spectacular places unimpaired for this and future generations, the National Park Service stresses a simple ethos: Take only photos, leave only footprints. As tempting as it might be to take home that lovely wildflower or a box of smooth river stones, leaving Great Smoky Mountains National […]

A wild awakening: An interview with David Brill, part 2

David Brill is one of the Smokies’ great living storytellers. Having contributed more articles to Smokies Life journal than almost anyone, he’s also published several book-length meditations on the paradoxically destructive and regenerative power of nature and the complex relationship with it we must all learn to navigate as humans. He considers himself a writer […]