The sprawling, 521,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) forms a saddle across the Unaka Mountains and separates the northern and southern portions of the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Pisgah National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina.
The total acreage in the 800-square-mile park is about evenly split, with 55 percent in North Carolina and 45 percent in Tennessee. The mountains are bisected by a single highway, the Newfound Gap Road, and are served by a few secondary roads that lead to campgrounds, trailheads, and scenic views. Large portions of the park remain roadless and retain an unspoiled quality.
Drained by more than 700 miles of trout streams and crisscrossed by more than 800 miles of hiking trails, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most popular park in the United States, is visited by nearly 10 million people annually. In order to preserve the quality of outdoor experiences, some of the backcountry campsites have limited access and permits are required to use them.