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GSMNP Announces Return of “Mountain Life” Festival

A panoramic view looking north from the observation tower on Clingmans Dome one can see Blanket Mountain on the far left, Cove Mountain and Bluff Mountain near the center, and Sugarland Mountain and Mount Le Conte on the far right. Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

After three years, the beloved Mountain Life Festival returns to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This eagerly awaited event will take place at the Mountain Farm Museum on Saturday, September 23, running from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Its primary purpose is to honor the rich legacy of the Appalachian customs that thrived for generations among the families who once inhabited the lands now encompassed by Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The festivities throughout the day pay homage to the collaborative spirit that defined the lives of these families and their close-knit communities, particularly during the harvest season. Attendees will have the opportunity to gain insights into this way of life by engaging with living historians and cultural demonstrators.

Immerse yourself in traditional autumnal activities that formed an integral part of mountain rural life, including blacksmithing, sorghum milling, apple cider pressing, soap making, live musical performances, and more. It’s worth noting that all these activities are entirely free and open to the public, ensuring that everyone can partake in this cultural celebration.

The Mountain Farm Museum, the event’s venue, is conveniently located adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just two miles north of Cherokee. If you have any inquiries about the Mountain Life Festival, feel free to contact the visitor center at 828-497-1904.

Moreover, September 23rd also marks a special occasion, as it’s a fee-free day across the entire National Park Service, in celebration of National Public Lands Day. Therefore, no parking tag is required for this event or any other activities within the park on this day. Note that the last fee-free day of the year falls on Veterans Day, which is Saturday, November 11.

For visitors interested in purchasing a weekly or annual tag on fee-free days, these options are still available online, within the park, and at various locations in park communities. It’s important to mention that park rangers will remain vigilant in their parking enforcement efforts on fee-free days, which may include issuing warnings and citations for vehicles parked in marked no-parking areas.

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