Break Description

The 2023 Great Smoky Mountains group rests in front of a river while wearing neon safety vests mountain vista in the background

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park. There are 80,000 documented species that call this park home, which makes it the most biodiverse of all the parks in the National Park System. The park covers more than half a million acres and straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Great Smoky Mountains NP is also rich in human history and is adjacent to the Qualla Boundary, which is the home of the sovereign nation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

We’ll be working directly with Adam Monroe, a Park Ranger and JMU alum. He’s got a variety of projects for us with the park’s trails, campgrounds, and historic landscapes. Most of it will be manual labor, so be ready for some physical effort! There will also be opportunities to learn about Native American history and presence in the area.

We’ll travel to Great Smoky Mountains National Park by JMU van. The Park will provide a campground that includes tent sites, a shelter for cooking, and bathroom and shower facilities. We will also have access to a large conference room in the campground, which can serve as a backup shelter in case of inclement weather. All group camping gear, such as tents, cooking gear, and camp stoves will be provided. Participants will need to bring personal camping gear, such as sleeping bags and sleeping pads (you can rent these cheaply from UREC!).

In terms of accessibility, volunteers will be camping and working in the outdoors, exposed to possible inclement weather. No prior experience is necessary, but students will be hiking to the project site with a daypack, crouching, bending and using basic hand tools like shovels, rakes, leaf blowers, and wheelbarrows throughout each day. We expect to work on single-track trails that are not wheelchair accessible.

Join us to serve in the Smoky Mountains and to see why more than twice as many people visit the Great Smoky Mountains NP each year as visit the Grand Canyon!


JMU is a member of the University Global Coalition with the United Nations and is committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future as defined by the Sustainable Development Goals.

13 Climate action. An eye with a globe in the place of the pupil 15 Life on land. A tree with flying birds.

Focus on: Preserving the Environment and Biodiversity

Community: Cherokee, NC

Leaders: TBD

Cost: $350 (need-based scholarships available)

What type of travel will this break use? Domestic Driving

What kind of break is this? Spring Break

Departure Date: 03-09-2024

Return Date: 03-16-2024

What community partner will you be working with? Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Currently Offered?: Yes

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