The History of Friends of the Smokies

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park assists the National Park Service in its mission to
preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by raising funds and public
awareness, and providing volunteers for needed projects.

The Beginning

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park was organized in 1993. 156 charter members donated $1,000 each to found Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower

In 1995, Friends of the Smokies funded reconstruction of the historic Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower, our first major project.

Charter From North Carolina

Friends of of the Smokies gained our incorporating charter from the State of North Carolina on June 30, 1995.

Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains

Friends of the Smoky Mountains National Park helped return elk to the Smokies after a 150-year absence in 2001.

Lab at the University of Tennessee

In 2005, Friends of the Smokies dedicated a new laboratory at the University of Tennessee to raise predator beetles for the fight against the hemlock woolly adelgid.

Trails Forever

Thanks to a $2 million matching grant from the Aslan Foundation of Knoxville in 2008, Friends of the Smokies established the Trails Forever endowment to fund a full-time trail crew for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the park's most impacted trails.

NPS Collections Preservation Center

In 2014, Friends of the Smokies provided $1.2 million towards the construction of the NPS Collections Preservation Center which will house more than 400,000 historic artifacts and 1.3 million archival records.

Fundraising Milestone

Total funds raised in support of Great Smoky Mountains National Park surpasses $50 million in 2016 during the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service.

The Future

We continue to look ahead to new fundraising and volunteer opportunities to support Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the National Park Service's second century of service.