The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is beautiful in July but in October I can imagine the views are just breathtaking with the fall colors. It is one of the largest protected areas in the country and the most visited national park in the country. Unfortunately it is also the most polluted national park in the country. The park has over 10,000 species of plants and animals inhabit the park, northern species at the higher elevations of up to 6,600 feet and southern species at the lower elevations. There are black bear in the park and elk were successfully reintroduced in 2001.
In addition to the air pollution problem, the Eastern hemlocks in the park, or the "Redwoods of the East" are under attack from an insect native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid. Without quicker intervention eventually this insect will kill all of the hemlocks in the park, some of them being over 500 years old. It is very sad to stop the vehicle and get out to take pictures only to see a multitude of dead trees on the mountainside. Hopefully something more gets done and gets done quickly.