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wildflowerRegistration for the 65th annual Wildflower Pilgrimage begins Saturday, February 14. Each year, more than 700 people from more than thirty-five states and beyond descend on the Great Smoky Mountains as spring flora color the forest with flowers and vibrant spring migratory birds return to their summer home.

The event is sponsored, in part, by several UT departments.

The event takes place April 21 to 25 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Online registration opens February 14. Registration fees are $75 per person for two or more days, or $50 for a single day. Students pay $15 with valid student ID presented at onsite registration.

The pilgrimage offers 146 guided walks and indoor presentations. This year features thirty-two birding programs along with programs on wildflowers, ferns, mosses, medicinal plants, bears, hogs, insects, bats, fungi, salamanders, ecology, tree and wildflower identification, cultural and natural history, and bird and wildflower photography and sketching.

The event also hosts a photography contest and a gallery of vendors, native plant growers, exhibitors, a native plant display, and a series of documentary and natural history films about the park.

The pilgrimage kicks off with a welcome luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21 at the Mills Conference Center. Speaker Kim DeLozier will deliver the talk “Bear in the Backseat: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” Talks on birds and fungi in the park will be given in the evenings.

The Wildflower Pilgrimage is a collaboration of UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Great Smoky Mountains Association, the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society, the City of Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Garden Club, Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. The more than a hundred event leaders include faculty and graduate students from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Division of Biology; and Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries.

For more information, call 865-436-7318, ext. 222, Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 4:00 p.m., or visit the Wildflower Pilgrimage website.


Ken McFarland (865-974-6841,