Great Smoky Mountains National Park vs Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve are two of the most stunning national parks in the United States. They both offer a unique experience for visitors, but which one is right for you? If you’re looking for adventure and breathtaking views, look no further than this comparison article.

On one hand, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its rolling hills, misty fog, and diverse wildlife. With over 800 miles of hiking trails, visitors can embark on anything from a leisurely stroll to a challenging trek. The park is also home to historic structures, cascading waterfalls, and scenic drives.

On the other hand, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is a remote wilderness area located in Alaska. This park is a true adventure lover’s paradise, offering opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and even bear watching. With its glaciers, hot springs, and stunning vistas, Lake Clark is a true gem of the Alaskan wilderness.

So, which one should you choose for your next adventure? Read on to find out!

Hiking Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Both Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve offer unique hiking experiences in their own ways. Great Smoky Mountains is known for its diverse range of trails, from short and easy walks to strenuous backcountry hikes. Hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains offer breathtaking views of its rolling hills, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls. One of the easiest trails is the 0.5-mile round-trip Laurel Falls Trail, which passes by a beautiful 80-foot waterfall. On the other hand, the strenuous backcountry hike to Mount LeConte is a must-try for adventure seekers, offering panoramic views from its 6,593-foot summit.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is a remote wilderness area that’s only accessible by boat or small plane. It’s renowned for its rugged beauty and abundant wildlife, but it’s also an excellent destination for hikers. Some of the most popular trails in the park are the boardwalk trails that wind through wetlands and bogs, such as the Telaquana Trail. For a more challenging hike, the Pioneer Ridge Trail is a strenuous 10.5-mile round-trip hike that offers panoramic views of the park’s glaciers and the surrounding peaks.

In conclusion, both Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve are great destinations for hikers, offering a range of trails to suit all levels of experience and fitness. Whether you’re seeking an easy nature walk or a challenging backcountry adventure, these parks have something to offer.

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

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
0.00 mi 0.00 ft /5

Wildlife in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in Tennessee and North Carolina, is known for its diverse wildlife and scenic beauty. Visitors to the park may spot black bears, white-tailed deer, coyotes, and elk. The park is also home to over 200 species of birds, including the colorful scarlet tanager and the elusive saw-whet owl. The park’s lush forests and rolling hills provide a habitat for a variety of plant species, including the iconic pink and purple wildflowers that bloom in the spring.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, located in Alaska, offers a completely different wildlife experience. Visitors to Lake Clark can expect to see a variety of marine mammals, including sea otters, harbor seals, and humpback whales. The park is also home to a number of bird species, including the majestic bald eagle and the colorful songbird, the American redstart. The park’s rugged coastline and tundra provide a habitat for a variety of arctic plant species, including the delicate Arctic cotton and the colorful Arctic poppy.

Both parks offer visitors the opportunity to view a diverse range of wildlife in unique and stunning natural environments. Whether you’re interested in observing black bears in the dense forests of Great Smoky Mountains or marine mammals in the icy waters of Lake Clark, each park offers a unique and unforgettable wildlife experience.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
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
Savannah Sparrow Savannah Sparrow
Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush Hermit Thrush
American Kestrel American Kestrel
Bald Eagle Bald Eagle
Song Sparrow Song Sparrow
European Starling Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail American Wigeon
American Wigeon Green-Winged Teal
Green-Winged Teal American Pipit

Mammals

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Bobcat Black Bear
Striped Skunk Porcupine
Little Brown Bat Red Fox
Deer Mouse Mink
Raccoon Gray Wolf
Black Bear Short-Tailed Weasel
Porcupine Snowshoe Hare
Silver-Haired Bat Northern River Otter
Hoary Bat Masked Shrew
Red Fox Water Shrew
Long-Tailed Weasel Red Squirrel
House Mouse Montane Shrew
Panther (Mountain Lion) Lynx
Mink Wolverine
Gray Fox American Marten
Gray Wolf Brown Bear
Snowshoe Hare Meadow Vole
River Otter Moose
Masked Shrew Least Weasel
Water Shrew Pygmy Shrew
Red Squirrel Meadow Jumping Mouse

Fish

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Rainbow Trout Steelhead
Brook Trout Longnose Sucker
Brown Trout Lake Trout
Largemouth Bass Northern Pike
Green Sunfish Burbot
Bluegill Silver Salmon
Common Carp King Salmon
Longnose Dace Slimy Sculpin
Yellow Bullhead Threespine Stickleback
Channel Catfish Sockeye Salmon
Black Crappie Pink Salmon
Black Bullhead Chum Salmon
Mosquitofish Dolly Varden
Creek Chub Arctic Grayling
Goldfish
Smallmouth Bass

Amphibians

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Northern Leopard Frog Wood Frog
American Bullfrog
Wood Frog

Beautiful Landscapes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and spans over 522,000 acres. It is the most visited national park in the United States and is known for its breathtaking landscapes, including rolling hills, dense forests, and clear streams. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bear, elk, and the iconic Smoky Mountain salamander.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is a lesser-known park located in Southcentral Alaska. It spans over 4 million acres and is known for its stunning landscapes, including glaciers, active volcanoes, and pristine lakes. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including brown bears, moose, and salmon.

In terms of famous landscapes, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is famous for its scenic drives, including the Newfound Gap Road and the Cades Cove Loop. The park also boasts a number of popular hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail and the Alum Cave Trail, which offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

In contrast, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is known for its rugged wilderness and remote beauty. The park is home to the Redoubt Volcano, which last erupted in 2009, and the turquoise waters of Lake Clark, which provide stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The park also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, kayaking, and backpacking, that allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in the surrounding wilderness.

Things To-Do and Activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve are two of the most popular national parks in the United States. Both parks offer a variety of outdoor recreational activities, but they differ in the types of activities they offer.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its scenic drives, picnic areas, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors can drive along the Newfound Gap Road, which offers stunning views of the park’s rolling hills and valleys. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, deer, and turkeys, which can often be seen from the roads or on the many picnic areas scattered throughout the park.

In contrast, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is known for its backpacking, fishing, and boating opportunities. The park is home to over 100 glaciers and numerous lakes and rivers, making it a popular destination for fishing and boating. Backpacking is also popular in the park, with a number of trails leading to remote wilderness areas. Visitors can also take guided flightseeing tours over the park’s glaciers and mountains, which offer once-in-a-lifetime views of the Alaska wilderness.

Whether you’re looking for scenic drives, wildlife viewing, or outdoor adventures, both Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve have something to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or simply looking to enjoy the great outdoors, these parks are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

Best Time to Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve (LCNP) are both popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts, but they have different weather patterns and conditions. GSMNP experiences a humid subtropical climate, with warm, humid summers and cool, wet winters. The park is also known for its high rainfall, which can make hiking and other outdoor activities challenging in the summer months. On the other hand, LCNP has a subarctic climate, with cold, long winters and mild summers. The park is also known for its unpredictable weather, with sudden rain showers and high winds.

The best time to visit GSMNP is in the spring, when the park is lush and green and the weather is mild. In the summer, the park can be crowded and hot, and the trails can be slippery due to the high rainfall. Winter is also a popular time to visit the park, when the weather is cool and dry, and visitors can enjoy the park’s beautiful snow-covered landscapes.

In contrast, the best time to visit LCNP is in the summer, when the weather is mild and the park is accessible for outdoor activities. The park is also known for its spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities, with many visitors coming to see the brown bears that roam the area. Winter is not recommended, as the park is often covered in snow and the weather can be harsh and unpredictable.

In conclusion, both parks have unique weather patterns, and the best time to visit depends on what type of activities you are interested in and what type of weather you prefer. Whether you prefer a warm, humid summer or a cold, snowy winter, both parks offer breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable experiences.

Family Friendliness of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Lake Clark National Park & Preserve both offer unique opportunities to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature, but they differ greatly in terms of family-friendliness.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in Tennessee and North Carolina, is widely considered as one of the most family-friendly national parks in the country. It boasts a diverse range of trails, from easy walks to challenging hikes, as well as a variety of educational programs and ranger-led activities that are specifically designed for families. The park also has a variety of picnic areas and campgrounds, making it easy for families to spend a day or a week exploring the park together.

On the other hand, Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, located in Alaska, is a more rugged and remote wilderness experience that can be challenging for families with young children. While the park offers a diverse range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and boating, it also requires a greater level of preparedness and self-sufficiency. The park has limited facilities and services, meaning that families will need to bring their own food and camping gear, and be prepared to be self-sufficient in a remote wilderness setting.

In conclusion, if you’re traveling with children, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the clear choice for a family-friendly outdoor adventure. It offers a diverse range of activities and facilities that cater to families, while Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is better suited for more experienced and self-sufficient outdoor enthusiasts.

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