Smokies Life Fall 2018: Stories of History, Culture and Survival


GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Great Smoky Mountains Association’s most recent issue of its award-winning Smokies Life magazine features an in-depth look at new groundbreaking bear research unique to Great Smoky Mountains National Park; the first four chapters of Willa of the Wood, a new best-selling fiction set in the Smokies; 10 compelling archival treasures stored at the Collections Preservation Center; and a comprehensive list of essential preparation techniques for staying safe while exploring the backcountry. 

“Having lived in both Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, I enjoy sharing stories about the natural and cultural history of the Smokies with our readers,” said Frances Figart, interpretive products and services director and the editor of Smokies Life. “One of my favourite pieces in this issue is David Brill’s first-hand account of a recent trail mishap and rescue as it highlights the importance of being prepared while simultaneously expecting the unexpected in the Smokies.” 

Other stories you’ll find inside this edition:

The Foothills Parkway’s ‘Missing Link’ found

Soon locals and visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park will enjoy32 miles of continuous parkway — without billboards, utility poles or commercial traffic — offering stunning views of the Smokies and Tennessee Valley.

“The pending opening of the Missing Link will create a unique destination with the promise of engineering and panoramic wonders, rewarding for the first-time visitors as well as Great Smoky Mountains veterans.” – William A. (Bill) Hart Jr., author and former GSMA Board Member. Photo by Warren Bielenberg

Bad news bears

A long-term study that tracks the movements of collared black bears inside and outside the park is changing the way the National Park Service looks at black bear management.

Jessica Giacomini, University of Tennessee Graduate student, and wildlife technician Josh Alston place a GPS collar and ear tag on a bear. Photo by Sherri Clark

Ethnologist and Cherokee scholar James Mooney

His seminal 1888 article “Myths of the Cherokees” and other writings reflected a lifelong fascination with Indians and their culture and provided a record of a Cherokee way of life that was rapidly fading by the late 1800s.

Discover Life in America

It all began on Earth Day 1998, and now Discover Life in America and the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory are celebrating 20 years in a groundbreaking effort to identify and understand every one of the estimated 60,000 to 80,000 forms of life within the park.

Dr. Andrea Radwell (foreground in waders) and Jason Love (gray vest) with a couple of young citizen scientists collecting water mites.

“We are so proud of the hard work we’ve put into this issue, from the beautiful cover art by Anderson Design Group, to the interesting stories and layouts, to the sheer effort by everyone in sales and creative,” said Lisa Horstman, GSMA’s lead publications specialist and the lead designer for the magazine. “Our work on Smokies Life keeps getting better and better, and this issue is some of our best work to date!” 

Members of Great Smoky Mountains Association receive Smokies Life in the mail twice a year as one of their many member benefits. It can also be purchased in GSMA stores and online, with sales helping support Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has supported the preservation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by promoting greater public understanding and appreciation through education, interpretation and research. A non-profit organization, GSMA has provided more than $40 million to the park during its 65-year history. 

Great Smokies

Welcome Center

Hours of Operation

(subject to change)

Open year round (closed December 25)

January - February

Open Daily 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

March - November

Open Daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Open Daily 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

The Great Smokies Welcome Center is located on U.S. 321 in Townsend, TN, 2 miles from the west entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors can get information about things to see and do in and around the national park and shop from a wide selection of books, gifts, and other Smokies merchandise. Daily, weekly, and annual parking tags for the national park are also available.

Physical Address

7929 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway Townsend TN 37882


865.436.7318 Ext 320