Why Are They Called the Smoky Mountains?

Why Are They Called the Smoky Mountains?
The Great Smoky Mountains are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park in the United States with more than nine million visitors annually. The region is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.


The Smoky Mountains stretch from the Little Tennessee River in the southwest to the Pigeon River in the northeast. The range runs from far eastern Tennessee to the western counties of North Carolina.


Name Origin

Named for the blue fog or mist that hangs over the mountains and in the valleys, the Smokies were originally settled by the Cherokee. Shaconage, or “place of the blue smoke,” is what they called this range of the Appalachians.

Weather Effects

The fog or mist is the result of warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico cooling rapidly as it enters higher elevations. The fog is most prevalent after a summer rainstorm.

Best Time To Visit

With over 60,000 visitors a day in summer, it is best to visit the Smoky Mountains during early fall. The temperatures are more pleasant, the foliage more colorful, and the crowds are smaller during September and October.

Spelling "Smoky"

There are just as many locals that spell Smoky with an “e” (Smokey) as those that don't. Either spelling is acceptable in the dictionary as well as the shortened name “Smokies” to refer to the entire mountain range.


Article Written By Laurie Roddy

A native of Houston, Laurie Roddy is a freelance outdoor writer with over 25 years writing experience. The main topics that she prefers to write about include hiking, golf, paddling, and traveling. She is a contributing writer for "Cy-Fair Magazine" and writes regularly for several websites. Roddy attended the University of Houston receiving a journalism degree. She has written "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Houston."

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