Smokies Life is a nonprofit cooperating association, and as such is one of the National Park Service’s oldest and most enduring partnerships. The primary purpose of Smokies Life is to support the scientific, historical and interpretive activities of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by providing educational products and services to park visitors. The success of this partnership is determined by the ability to work cooperatively in a responsive way to meet the changing needs of the park and its visitors.
Smokies Life depends on the generous support of our members to fulfill our mission – to preserve the Smokies for generations to come. Your membership helps our association welcome more than 11 million people each year to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Exploring the Smokies begins at one of the park’s state-of-the-art visitor centers, where rangers conduct educational programs and Smokies Life staff provide recommendations for the best hiking, picnicking and camping spots.
Membership driven funding also supports backcountry rangers who protect more than 800 miles of trails offering spectacular mountain vistas, rushing streams and waterfalls, historic structures and quiet groves of old-growth forest. Funds help to preserve the old ways: sorghum and soap making, old-time music, spinning, quilting and basket making, storytelling, harp singing, and old-time toys.
Smokies Life helps to protect more than 90 historic structures – houses, barns, outbuildings, churches, schools, and grist mills – that have been preserved or rehabilitated in the park. Membership dues also help manage the more than 1,600 black bears who are wild, free and thriving in the park, and to fight the pests and invasive species attacking the park’s hemlock trees. Smokies Life also makes it possible to bring thousands of students to the park each year and to provide them with engaging learning experiences by utilizing the park’s cultural and natural resources as teaching tools.