Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park vs Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are two of the most popular national parks in the United States, each offering visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park boasts a dramatic and steep-walled canyon that is a popular spot for hiking, rock climbing, and fishing. On the other hand, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its lush vegetation and diverse wildlife, with over 1,500 species of plants and animals, including black bears, elk, and wild turkeys. These two parks offer vastly different landscapes and activities, making them an ideal destination for nature lovers who are looking for a diverse and exciting vacation. Whether you’re looking for an adventure-filled trip or a peaceful getaway, these parks are sure to offer something for everyone.

Hiking Trails in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are both known for their hiking trails. However, they offer different types of hiking experiences.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is known for its steep, narrow canyons and challenging hikes. The park offers several hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous. Some of the easiest hikes include the Rim Rock Trail and the South Rim Road, which offer great views of the canyon without a lot of elevation gain. The harder hikes include the Gunnison Route and the Inner Canyon, which require advanced hiking skills and a full day of hiking.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the other hand, is known for its scenic, rolling mountains and easy to moderate hiking trails. The park offers a variety of trails for all skill levels, from short, paved nature trails to longer backcountry hikes. Some of the easiest hikes include the Laurel Falls Trail, the Grotto Falls Trail, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which are all less than 3 miles round trip. The park also offers strenuous hikes such as the Alum Cave Trail and the Ramsey Cascades Trail.

Overall, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is known for its challenging hikes and rugged terrain, while Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its scenic, rolling mountains and easy to moderate hikes. Both parks offer a variety of trails for all skill levels, but Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is more suitable for experienced hikers and those looking for a more strenuous hiking experience. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is more suitable for families and those looking for an easy to moderate hike.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Warner Point Nature Trail 1.50 mi 406.72 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Oak Flat Loop Trail 1.30 mi 311.60 ft loop Moderate 4/5
Gunnison Route Trail 1.80 mi 1,781.04 ft out and back Very Hard 4.5/5
Painted Wall View Trail 0.20 mi 6.56 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Chasm View Nature Trail 0.60 mi 108.24 ft loop Easy 5/5
Exclamation Point 2.89 mi 364.08 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Green Mountain Summit Via North Vista Trail 6.49 mi 1,226.72 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Gunnison Point Overlook 0.20 mi 78.72 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Rim Rock Nature Trail 1.50 mi 186.96 ft out and back Moderate 4/5
Warner Route 4.19 mi 3,034.00 ft out and back Very Hard 4.5/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte 10.68 mi 3,007.76 ft out and back Hard 5/5
Chimney Tops Trail 3.59 mi 1,289.04 ft out and back Hard 4.5/5
Rainbow Falls Trail 5.49 mi 1,653.12 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Grotto Falls Trail 2.59 mi 534.64 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Laurel Falls Trail 2.40 mi 396.88 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Abrams Falls Trail 4.89 mi 629.76 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail 1.20 mi 331.28 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail 8.58 mi 1,981.12 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Ramsey Cascades Trail 8.08 mi 2,223.84 ft out and back Hard 4.5/5
Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluffs Trail 4.19 mi 1,059.44 ft out and back Moderate 5/5

Wildlife in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are both home to a wide variety of wildlife. At Black Canyon Of The Gunnison, visitors can expect to see animals such as bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, black bears, and mountain lions. The park also has a variety of bird species, including golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and turkey vultures. The park is also home to many species of plants, including wildflowers, cacti, and trees such as Douglas fir, aspen and Ponderosa Pine.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also home to a diverse array of wildlife. Some of the most commonly seen animals in the park include black bears, white-tailed deer, raccoons, and wild turkeys. The park is also home to many species of birds, including the Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Bluebird and the Wood Thrush. The park also boasts over 1,600 species of flowering plants, including trillium, wild rose and mountain laurel.

Overall, both parks offer visitors the opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife, and both are popular with nature enthusiasts. However, Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park may be more suitable for visitors interested in seeing big game animals like elk and bighorn sheep, while Great Smoky Mountains National Park is better for those interested in seeing a wide variety of birds and plants.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker Northern Flicker
Merlin Merlin
Barn Swallow Barn Swallow
Great Blue Heron Savannah Sparrow
Hermit Thrush Great Blue Heron
American Kestrel Hermit Thrush
Bald Eagle American Kestrel
Song Sparrow Bald Eagle
European Starling Song Sparrow
Northern Pintail European Starling
American Wigeon Northern Pintail
Green-Winged Teal American Wigeon
American Pipit Green-Winged Teal

Mammals

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Big Brown Bat
Bobcat Bobcat
Striped Skunk Striped Skunk
Little Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Deer Mouse Deer Mouse
Raccoon Raccoon
Black Bear Black Bear
Porcupine Porcupine
Silver-Haired Bat Silver-Haired Bat
Hoary Bat Hoary Bat
Red Fox Red Fox
Long-Tailed Weasel Long-Tailed Weasel
House Mouse House Mouse
Mountain Lion Panther (Mountain Lion)
American Mink Mink
Mule Deer Gray Fox
Common Gray Fox Gray Wolf
Long-Legged Myotis Snowshoe Hare
Long-Eared Myotis River Otter
American Badger Masked Shrew
California Myotis Water Shrew
Snowshoe Hare Red Squirrel

Fish

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Rainbow Trout Rainbow Trout
Brown Trout Brook Trout
Long-Nose Sucker Brown Trout
Northern Pike Largemouth Bass
Mottled Sculpin Green Sunfish
Speckled Dace Bluegill
Common Carp
Longnose Dace
Yellow Bullhead
Channel Catfish
Black Crappie
Black Bullhead
Mosquitofish
Creek Chub
Goldfish
Smallmouth Bass

Amphibians

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Northern Leopard Frog Northern Leopard Frog
Tiger Salamander American Bullfrog
Wood Frog

Beautiful Landscapes in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park offer vastly different landscapes for visitors to explore. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is known for its steep and dramatic cliffs, deep gorges, and unique rock formations. The park’s main attraction, the Black Canyon, is a narrow and steep gorge carved by the Gunnison River. Visitors can hike along the rim of the canyon for breathtaking views or take a guided boat tour to the bottom of the canyon for a closer look.

On the other hand, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its lush forests, mist-covered peaks, and cascading waterfalls. The park is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, including the famous wildflowers that bloom in the spring and fall. Visitors can hike along the park’s many trails, take a scenic drive, or even horseback ride through the park. The park also offers campground and picnicking facilities, as well as ranger-led activities and educational programs. The most famous and popular spot in the park is Clingmans Dome, which offers panoramic views of the entire park.

Things To-Do and Activities in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are both incredibly popular national parks, each offering a wide variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.

At Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park, visitors can explore the park’s deep, steep canyons and rugged terrain through hiking, camping, and rock climbing. The park also offers ranger-led tours and educational programs, as well as opportunities for fishing and stargazing.

In contrast, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its beautiful hiking trails, which range from easy, paved walks to strenuous backcountry treks. Visitors can also enjoy camping, fishing, picnicking, horseback riding, and scenic drives through the park. Additionally, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its rich cultural history and offers a variety of historical and educational programs.

One of the most popular activities at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is wildlife viewing, as the park is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, including black bears, elk, deer, wild turkeys, and a wide variety of birds and other small mammals.

Both Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are great for families with children, offering a variety of activities that are both fun and educational. However, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a bit more family-friendly due to the variety of easy and paved hiking trails, and the park’s rich cultural history and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Best Time to Visit Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are both popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts, but the seasonal weather at each park can vary greatly.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, located in western Colorado, is known for its hot summers and cold winters. The best time to visit the park is in the spring and fall, when the temperatures are milder and the wildflowers are in bloom. During the summer, temperatures can reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, making it difficult to hike the park’s steep and rocky trails. Winter can bring heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, making the park’s trails and roads impassable.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the other hand, is located in the southern Appalachians and has a more moderate climate. The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is in the spring and fall when the temperatures are mild and the fall foliage is at its peak. Summer can be hot and humid, making it less comfortable for hiking, and the park can be crowded with tourists. Winter can bring snow and ice, making the park’s roads and trails slippery and difficult to navigate.

In terms of hiking trails, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers some of the most challenging hikes in the park system, with steep and rocky terrain. Some of the easiest hikes include the Rim Rock and Oak Flat Loop trails, while the strenuous, multi-day Inner Canyon backpacking trip is one of the most difficult.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a range of hiking options, from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry treks. Some of the most popular easy hikes include the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The strenuous, multi-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail is one of the most difficult hikes in the park.

In summary, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is best visited in Spring and Fall while Great Smoky Mountains is open year-round but best visited in Spring and Fall. The former offers some of the most challenging hikes in the park system while the latter offers a range of hiking options from easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry treks.

Family Friendliness of Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are both great options for families looking to enjoy the outdoors together. However, they offer different types of experiences.

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park is known for its steep and rugged terrain, which can be challenging for young children and families with strollers. However, it also offers a variety of shorter, easier trails that are suitable for families, such as the South Rim Road, which provides access to several scenic overlooks. Additionally, ranger-led programs and guided tours are offered during the summer months, providing an educational and interactive experience for children.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the other hand, is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and wide variety of activities. The park offers many easy and moderate hikes, such as the 2.6-mile round trip hike to Laurel Falls, which is suitable for families with children. Additionally, the park has a variety of ranger-led programs, campfire talks, and guided tours, as well as a number of visitor centers and museums that provide educational and interactive experiences for visitors of all ages.

Overall, both parks offer great outdoor experiences for families, but Great Smoky Mountains National Park may be a better option for families traveling with young children or those looking for more accessible and varied activities.

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