Taking a Blanket Home: Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the #pendle10park explorers

Ten Million People?

Matthews_ A woman wrapped in a blanket looks out at the park

Welcome to the most visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These misty mountains welcome nine to ten million visitors per year. The park covers more than 800 square miles in Tennessee and North Carolina, making it the largest national park east of the Rockies.

We sent our blanket home to the Great Smokys with one of our #pendle10park explorers. True to their name, the mountains were cloaked with heavy mist, caused by high elevation, 80 inches of rainfall per year, and a multitude of flora; 130 species of trees, over 100 native shrub species, and some 1,600 species of flowering plants.

Matthews_ Mountains covered with mist that looks like smoke

The Cherokee called the region Shaconage, which translates to “mountains of the blue smoke.”

Matthews_ a waterfall

The park is home to many beautiful waterfalls that also play a part in creating that wonderful haze.

Matthews_ A waterfall empties into a lak

As an International Biosphere Reserve, the Park’s biological diversity is preserved and studied. A staggering 10,00 different species of plants and animals are recorded here, but there may be as many as 9o,000 more species of plant an animal life still to be identified.


With the help of a distance lens, our explorer encountered some of this wildlife, including one of the park’s 1500 black bears.

Matthews_ A black bear in the forest

Elk, which were re-introduced to the park in 2001, are becoming more common. A herd of around 140 ranges on the North Carolina side of the park. Again, we promise that these beautiful shots were taken at a distance.

Matthews_ An elk in the forest
Matthews_ Two elk in the forest

Incredible shots.

Great Smoky National Park is open 365 days a year, and park entry is free. Free! Yes, that means you have access to 850 miles of hiking (there is a fee for overnight camping. But it’s worth it to wake up and smell the coffee in a paradise like this.

Matthews_ A hand holding out a Great Smoky coffee cup
Matthews_ A woman drinks her coffee
Matthews_ Misty mountainsides

Ben Matthews

Many thanks to our #pendle10park explorer, Ben Matthews.

See more of Ben’s work here:

Ben Matthews on Instagram 

Ben Matthews

Shop Pendleton’s National Park collection here: Great Smoky