If allowed only one word to justify the Smokies worthiness as a National Park, that word would be plants. Vegetation is to Great Smoky Mountains National Park what granite domes and waterfalls are to Yosemite and geysers are to Yellowstone.
Variations in elevation, rainfall, temperature, and geology in these ancient mountains provide ideal habitat for over 1,600 species of flowering plants, including 100 native tree species and over 100 native shrub species. The park is also a global center for non-flowering plants, including 450 bryophytes-mosses, liverworts, and a few hornworts. Non-flowering species also include some 50 ferns and fern allies and at least one horsetail.
With the vast diversity in plants, there is a year-round show that everyone can enjoy. When the colors turn, the park takes on a different look, but one just as beautiful. The only way to see the full effect is to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park for yourself.
Picking plants or removing any object from the national park is prohibited. (Title 36, Chapter 1, Section 2.1 (1), Preservation of natural, cultural, and archeological resources).