Birds are chirping, the sky is blue, and the Smoky Mountains are bursting with the bright and varied colors of wildflowers. It’s SPRING! As the weather warms in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, the many species of wildflowers begin blooming in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Within the park there are more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants – a greater variety than in any other national park in America. They range in color, size, and quantity, but equal in beauty. Popping up along trails and spreading across grassy fields, these spring wildflowers bathe the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in beauty. As you explore the park, look out for some of these wildflowers and flowering shrubs:
- Trillium – varieties around the park include: white, Catesby’s, painted, Vasey’s, and yellow
- Spring beauty – five pink-striped white or pale pink petals, 3-4 inches tall, two oval, dark green leaves halfway up the stem
- Bloodroot – several narrow white petals, veiny lobed leaves, common in lower elevations
- Crested Dwarf Iris – three purple-blue petals and three sepals with a yellow and white crest, common in mid to low elevations
- Smooth Solomon’s Seal – found in mid to low elevations, tiny flowers hanging from a hairless stem
- Catawba rhododendron – common in high elevations, nine species can be found in the park
- Foamflower – delicate white flowers on a leafless stem, leaves below the spike look like maple leaves
- Bishop’s Cap – small, white, bell-shaped flowers, pair of leaves halfway up stalk and at base, common in mid to low elevations
With spring and the emergence of the wildflowers comes one of Gatlinburg’s most beloved annual events – the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. This year, the 64th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage will take place April 15 – 19 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The annual five-day event will feature wildflower lessons, natural and history walks, photographic tours, indoor seminars, and art classes.
Suited for adults and children of all ages, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage will offer visitors a way to enjoy the incredible scenery in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while learning more about the ecology of the area and the specific flora and fauna of the park.
This year, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage will also host a photography contest, open to everyone. A limit of six images per adult and eight images per child may be entered, and categories include Flora (flowers, trees, shrubs & other plant life), Fauna (insects and animals), Landscape, and Youth (under 18).
Prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as Honorable Mention, will be given in each category. For more information about the contest, check online.
All events (with the exception of the luncheon) during the 64th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage are covered in the registration fee. You can register online now to start planning your week, or you can register at Mills Conference Center the week of the event.
On-site registration hours
Tuesday, April 15 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Wednesday – Friday, April 16-18 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. & 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 19 7 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Adults: $50 one day, $75 two days or more
Students: $15 (need student ID for on-site registration)
Children under 12: Free with a registered adult
Spring is a truly beautiful time in the Smokies. Whether you follow a guide on the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage or chart your own path, you won’t want to miss the amazing scenery in springtime. If you need a cozy cabin where you can rest your feet after exploring the park, call us at 1.800.684.7865 and let one of our reservation specialists help you find the perfect Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge cabin rental!