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Outdoors and Nature


The Great Smoky Mountains in the east and the Cumberland Plateau in the west form the Tennessee Valley and shelter it from extreme weather conditions, providing an annual average temperature of 56 degrees. The Knoxville-Oak Ridge area experiences four distinct seasons with vivid colors in the spring and fall and generally mild temperatures year-round.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the first of its kind, was authorized in 1934 and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. Since then, the park has grown to 510,030 acres of beautiful ridges, hollows, river gorges, and coves that offer a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking, camping, fishing and skiing. With more than 8.45 million visitors annually, the Smokies are the most visited national park, and are only a 45-minute drive from Knoxville.

Natural Beauty

The areas in and around East Tennessee have some of the most beautiful scenery in all of North America. We are surrounded by mountains to the east and west, so you frequently get to enjoy the breathtaking views as the sun rises from behind the North Carolina mountains. Get out and soak up the beauty at local arboretums, Oak Ridge parks, Clinton parks, Lenoir City parks, Knoxville parks and greenways and Ijams Nature Center.

ORNL interns on a hike

“Great day for a hike! #ORNLStory”