Meet the Natives

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 1,660 kinds of flowering plants. The wildflower show begins in late winter and continues year-round, with springtime displays of trillium, lady slipper orchids and crested dwarf iris giving way to brilliant red cardinal flowers and butterfly-weed in summer, followed by monk’s hood, coneflowers and towering Joe-Pye-Weed in fall. Just to name a very, very few.

The Great Smokies offers excellent birding opportunities with several high elevation species not found anywhere else in the southeastern United States. Experts say that a drive of less than an hour in these mountains is similar, ornothologically speaking, to a trip from the Georgia Piedmont all the way to New England.

Wildflower Walks

Just a tiny sampling of the varieties you’re likely to see on a self-guided walk throughout the Ranch and the adjoining Park.

Cardinal Flower
This species blooms in late summer and early fall in wet areas and along stream banks, often attracting swallowtail butterflies.

Small Yellow Lady’s Slipper
This orchid and the more common closely related larger Yellow Lady's Slipper bloom in early summer at several locations in the park.

Painted Trillium
This striking Trillium blooms in May at several locations on the Ranch property and nearby in the park.

Dutchman’s Breeches
This beautiful and delicate flower blooms in April at numerous locations on the Ranch property, often found with the closely related Squirrel Corn.

Trillium Sulcatum
This Southern Red Trillium blooms in April and May in rich woodlands; the similar Red Trillium and Vasey's Trillium are found at numerous locations on the Ranch property.

Photos by nature photographer Bill Harbin. Click here for more information.


Their diverse plant life and wide range of elevations make the Great Smokies a true birdwatcher’s paradise. Below, a few of the local inhabitants.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak
This beautiful songster, who has been called the "Troubadour of the Eastern forests," breeds in summer at the Ranch.

Scarlet Tanager
This striking species breeds in summer at the Ranch.

Chestnut-Sided Warbler
This neotropical migrant is very common at the Ranch in spring, summer and early fall.

Black Throated Blue Warbler
Look for this summer breeder at the Ranch in low forest shrubbery.

Blackburnian Warbler
Many regard this species as the most striking Warbler of the Eastern United States. It is a summer breeder at the Ranch.