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Registration for the sixty-sixth annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage opens at 8 a.m. Sunday, February 14.

Houstonia serpyllifoliaEach year, more than 700 people from more than thirty-five states and beyond descend on the Great Smoky Mountains as the spring flora tints the forest with flowers and vibrant spring migratory birds return to their summer home.

The event is sponsored, in part, by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

The event takes place April 19-23 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Online registration is available on the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage website. Registration fees are $75 a person for two or more days or $50 for a single day. The registration fee for students is $15 with a valid student ID presented at on site registration.

Scarlet TanagerThe pilgrimage offers 144 guided walks and indoor presentations. This year features fifty-nine wildflower and twenty-six birding programs along with a number of events on ferns, mosses, medicinal plants, bear and hogs, insects, bats, fungi, salamanders, ecology, tree and wildflower identification, cultural and natural history, and bird and wildflower photography and sketching. The pilgrimage also features items for purchase from the Great Smoky Mountain Association bookstore and Sunlight Gardens native plants along with a native plant display.

This year, the evening programs will feature “A Celebration of a People and their Land” by Bill Landry, trivia about the Great Smoky Mountains and other National Parks by Andy Key with the Knox Trivia Guys, and “Celebrating our National Parks Through Images” by Steve Bohleber.

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is a collaboration of UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains Association, the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society, the City of Gatlinburg, Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Several of the 100 event leaders are faculty and graduate students from UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

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


Ken McFarland (865-974-6841,