First Smokies Writers Conference accepts applications through April

About this time last year, I was asked to be involved with designing the first-ever conference for writers to be held within the boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The inaugural Tremont Writers Conference is the coordinated effort of two educational park partners: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

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Mabel Meets a Black Bear book cover and interior pages

Mabel Meets a Black Bear teaches kids to be BearWise

As days lengthen and temperatures rise, black bears begin to move around in the woods searching for insects, nuts, and berries. They also look for food in the gateway communities outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In sync with bears’ emergence, Great Smoky Mountains Association has just released a new

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A hand drawn map of Camp Margaret Townsend, which operated in Walker Valley from 1925 to 1959. Courtesy of Jeremy Lloyd.

Camp Margaret Townsend: Wild women in the woods

I was perched one day on the stoop of my tiny apartment on the campus of Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont when an old woman walked up to me and said, “You’re sitting where my kitchen used to be.” I’ve had numerous encounters over the years with such individuals,

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Training essential to Park’s Search and Rescue

On a mid-September morning, 14 men and women gather at an abandoned quarry off US 441 a mile or so south of Sugarlands and confront a vertical stone wall that looms 15 feet above them. The sheer rock face culminates in a gently sloping bench that extends 30 feet before

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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.

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

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

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Walker Sisters Cabin. Photo by Donald Miller.

Volunteer Robin Goddard helps bring park’s rich history to life

I never imagined a pumpkin might mean the difference between life and death. The only time I’ve ever paid the slightest attention to the large, lopsided orange fruit is during jack-o’-lantern and pumpkin pie season. Then I met Robin Goddard during my stint as the 2022 Steve Kemp Writer-in-Residence and

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Elizabeth and George Ellison at their home, Permanent Camp, on lower Lands Creek. Photo by Quintin Ellison.

George Ellison: Too much and not enough

When I got a text from Elizabeth Ellison on the morning of February 9 that George was in the hospital and struggling, I was actually in the Smokies that he loved — and we were having some very strange weather. The wind that morning was so fierce I nearly blew

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A glamping Eco-Adventure for Smokies biodiversity

As the weather warms in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the fragrant aroma of spring wildflowers fills the air. Northern cardinals sing in short bursts from the canopy, and robins flutter through the underbrush, calling out in search of a mate. Among the blooms, the distinct drone of insects joins

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Photo courtesy of Joye Ardyn Durham