Become a Smokies Insider. As an insider, you help protect the historic architecture in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park AND maximize your Smokies getaway with our insider guides. As a thank you, you also receive a handmade limited-edition, platinum, archival plate commemorating your devotion to one of our greatest national treasures.


  • Maximize Your Smokies Getaway With Our Insider Guides
  • Help Protect Historic Architecture in the National Park
  • Receive Tips & Tutorials for Photography, Hiking, Wildflowers, Fall Colors and More via our Members-Only Newsletter
  • Receive a Handmade Limited Edition Platinum Archival Plate
  • Only $12/month or $99/year (30% savings)

By being a Smokies Insider, you are helping protect the historic cabins, mills, barns, and other architecture in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park AND you are receiving incredible value to make the most of your Smokies getaway via our membership benefits.  

In 2017, I take you behind the scenes with me while I create handmade platinum archival plates of the historic architecture in Cades Cove.  You can follow along with me as I create the platinum archival plates and view behind the scenes photos and videos for each location too.  As a Smokies Insider, you will have access to private videos that I create and share via the members-only Smokies Insider Newsletter.  My plan is to donate a full set of the platinum plates to at least one historic preservation organization to ensure the long-term survival of the plates.  I am donating 10% of the net profits to Friends of the Smokies, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to preserving and protecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  There are 6 major project areas to include: greatest need, wildlife/wilderness, environmental education, protection of historic places, improve visitor experience.  I will be specifying all the donations this year go towards the protection of historic places fund.  

I spent years wasting time researching and being frustrated with poor and misinformation for the types of adventures and fun that is available in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I started keeping a journal of all my hikes, photo adventures, wildflower hikes, viewing of fall colors at their peak, and more, which ultimately has turned into the Smokies Insider Guides that I publish for members.  I want everyone to spend their time having fun and enjoying nature, not wasting their time researching or chasing bad information.  


  • You get to select a collector, limited edition of 25platinum archival plate each year for your personal collection.  This year, I am working on the historic architecture of Cades Cove.  I keep the website updated with the availability of each plate in addition to a bunch of behind the scenes photos and videos for you to enjoy.  Just simply let me know which plate you prefer, and I make arrangements to ship it to you.  The platinum plates are a great way for you to continue to enjoy your favorite parts of the Great Smoky Mountains, and also pass these collectibles down to your family members. 
  • You get access to the exclusive members-only Smokies Insider Newsletter, where I email you timely updates that includes things like tips for emerging wildflowers in the spring, peaking fall colors, and other important news and information.  
  • I publish Smokies Insider Guides (hiking, camping, photography, wildflowers reports, fall color reports, and more) for some of the best places and activities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park four times per year (Jan 1st, April 1st, July 1st, October 1st).  The Smokies Insider Guides are provided in PDF format so that you can print them or save them on your smartphone or tablet for easy access when you need them.  There is very limited or no access to mobile phone services in the majority of the areas in the park so the guides become a reliable way to enjoy your favorite activities. 
  • The Smokies Insider Photography Guides will help you photograph some of the most beautiful and untapped locations, wildlife, wildflowers, and fall colors in the Smokies.  It is critical to know where to go, what time of year and time of day to be in place to have the best opportunity for those special photos. Based on over 30 years of experience, I share insider tips to help you create beautiful images with just about any type of camera.
  • The Smokies Insider Hiking Guides help you plan and enjoy some of the most beautiful hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I rate the hikes (e.g., easy, moderate, difficult, kid/family friendly) along with photographs and videos to help you determine if the hike is for you or not. I document all of the information a hiker wants to know so that you can stop wasting your valuable time researching hiking websites and focus on enjoying the trails and nature.  I want my members to maximize every minute of their time while visiting and vacationing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  
  • The Smokies Insider Wildflower Guides help you find the latest wildflowers to enjoy on your hike or photography outing.  I also publish "how-to" articles and tips on the best ways to photograph various wildflowers and I also send out time-sensitive updates to you via the Smokies Insider Newsletter.  
  • The Smokies Insider Fall Color Guides keep you up to date on where and when the best colors are occurring.  I also include special tips and tutorials on how to create the best photographs.  
  • I send you video updates from the field to help keep you up to date on the latest information throughout the year.  

Become a Smokies Insider Today!   


The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. 

They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains and the name is commonly shortened to the Smokies. The Great Smokies are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934, and, with over 11 million visitors per year, it is the most-visited national park in the United States.

The Great Smokies are part of an International Biosphere Reserve. The range is home to an estimated 187,000 acres of old growth forest, constituting the largest such stand east of the Mississippi River.

You can download PDF maps of the GSMNP and the region.  

The cove hardwood forests in the range's lower elevations are among the most diverse ecosystems in North America, and the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest that coats the range's upper elevations is the largest of its kind.  The Great Smokies are also home to the densest black bear population in the Eastern United States and the most diverse salamander population outside of the tropics.

Along with the Biosphere reserve, the Great Smokies have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The U.S. National Park Service preserves and maintains 78 structures within the national park that were once part of the numerous small Appalachian communities scattered throughout the range's river valleys and coves. The park contains five historic districts and nine individual listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

The name "Smoky" comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog is caused by the vegetation exhaling volatile organic compounds, chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and easily form vapors at normal temperature and pressure.