2024 Park Needs

icon of trees

Every year, the park asks Friends to support special projects and programs that would otherwise go unfulfilled. Your gifts help us fund these requests and it makes a huge difference in providing visitors with the best possible experience while protecting and preserving our beloved Smokies.

Your contribution makes a difference in supporting special programs and projects like:

Smokies Wildlife

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest tracts of wilderness in the Eastern United States, and provides crucial wildlife habitat. The Smokies is home to 65 species of mammals, 67 species of native fish, 200 varieties of birds, and 80 types of reptiles and amphibians. The park’s most famous residents are black bear and elk, but the Smokies is also known as the ‘Salamander Capital of the World.’ Friends of the Smokies supports wildlife programs like:

  • Seasonal wildlife rangers
  • Black bear research and management projects
  • Native brook trout habitat restoration 

Park Plants

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most biodiverse national park in America. More than 1,500 types of flowering plants and 450 nonflowering plants are found in the Smokies. The park also provides ideal habitat for 100 species each of native trees and shrubs. Many park plants are considered rare, threatened, or endangered. Friends of the Smokies supports the protection of these plants through programs like:

  • Hemlock and Ash tree protection 
  • Monitoring vegetation and soil quality across the park
  • Cades Cove and Cataloochee field conservation

Stories of the Past & Present

Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserves and shares the rich and continuing stories of human history in the Southern Appalachians. The park protects artifacts, landscapes, and structures that help weave mountain families’ stories together. Friends of the Smokies is committed to these efforts, and funds projects and programs like:

  • Forever Places 
  • Inclusive storytelling projects
  • Living history and cultural demonstrations
  • Event support for park descendants
  • Purchasing materials for preservation projects

Recreation & Adventure

Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a multitude of recreational opportunities in the frontcountry and the backcountry. Visitors find solitude and adventure on the nearly 900 miles of trails, 800 miles of fishable streams. Campgrounds, campsites, picnic areas, and scenic drives continue to facilitate smoky mountain memories for generations of park users. Friends of the Smokies supports recreation projects and programs like:

  • Trails Forever 
  • A.T. Ridge Runner support
  • Restoration of Little Cataloochee Trail

Education Programming

Great Smoky Mountains National Park fosters opportunities to experience the Smokies as an outdoor classroom. School aged children, teachers, and visitors benefit from the distance and place-based learning programs provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers. Examples of education programming supported by Friends of the Smokies include:

  • ‘Parks as Classrooms’ program support
  • ‘Parks in Classrooms’ program support
  • Urban youth program
  • Gateway community school experience

Visitor Safety

More than 14 million people visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park last year. The National Park Service works to provide every visitor with a safe and positive experience. Friends of the Smokies supports these efforts by funding needs like:

  • Safety equipment for Search & Rescue Team
  • Advanced Search & Rescue training


Through the Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program, more than 2,000 individuals contribute approximately 104,000 hours of volunteer service every year and support virtually all phases of park operations. Friends of the Smokies provides funding for needs like:

  • Volunteers-in-Parks program supplies
  • Volunteer Roadside Assistance program

For more information about specific projects and programs, contact us at info@friendsofthesmokies.org.