Welcome to the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage
Join us for the 67th Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Smokies on April 11-15, 2017!
The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is an annual five-day event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park offering professionally guided programs which explore the region’s rich wildflowers, wildlife, ecology, culture, and natural history through walks, motorcades, photographic tours, art classes, and evening seminars. Most programs are outdoors in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All programs are held, rain or shine.
As you probably know, a devastating fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) moved into Gatlinburg, TN in late November, 2016. The fire burned 3% of GSMNP land (17,140 acres) from the Chimney Tops down into Sugarlands Valley. Portions of Gatlinburg contiguous to GSMNP forest land also burned. Embers from the fire drifted off many miles and created secondary fires. All GSMNP buildings within the fire zone were spared. Unfortunately, approximately 2,200 homes and businesses in Gatlinburg were severely damaged or destroyed. The GSMNP is alive and recovering. The business core of Gatlinburg is intact. Most of the hotels and restaurants were not affected by the fire.
This is a great time to observe how the wilderness recovers from fire damage. Several walks this year explore the effects of fire on a natural environment. The Friday evening program by National Park Zone Fire Management Officers, Greg Salansky and/or Rob Klein, discusses “Fire Ecology of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park”.
Other evening speakers also focus on environmental aspects of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. On Wednesday, author and outdoorsman, Charles Maynard, presents “Reading Between the Lines - Stories of Writing about the Smokies’ Waterfalls, Churches, and Trails”. On Thursday, Regional Resource Specialists and Biologist with the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Park Service, Scott McFarland, talks about his research on natural sounds and night skies in the Smokies.
Featured Artist-of-the-Year, Mary Ruden, will be honored at a Wednesday evening reception and exhibit.
This year Fine Design will produce Pilgrimage T-shirts on-site in the Mills Conference Center gallery. Pilgrims will be able to select from a variety of logos and watch them be printed in a minute or two. The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage logo, 2017 winning artist image (cover on brochure), and a few other select logos or nature quotes such as, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees” - H.D. Thoreau, can be applied to your personalized shirt. There will be a variety of t-shirt colors, sleeve lengths, and sweatshirts available.
Daytime indoor programs are not included in this year’s schedule due to declining attendance in recent years. The Mills Conference Center gallery will be lively, however, with a native plant display, the Great Smoky Mountain Association store (www.smokiesinformation.org), Fine Design T-shirts, and Sunlight Gardens native plants (www.sunlightgardens.com). All of these, and the evening programs, are open to the public.
Gatlinburg needs your business. The 67th Wildflower Pilgrimage offers visitors a unique experience this year. Come see the first stage of the Park’s recovery and show your support for Gatlinburg.
Online Registration begins March 1, 2017 at 8:00am. Click the Register Now button on the left side of the homepage. Register now online .
On-site registration will begin Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 5:00 PM in the Mills Conference Center, Gatlinburg TN.
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Become a Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage Sponsor
Please consider becoming a Sponsor of the Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. Tax-deductible Sponsorships can be made online or onsite at the Registration Desk during operating hours.