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Great Smokies Eco-Adventure

Sun., April 21, 12:00 pm-Tue., April 23, 4:00 pm

Discover Life in America (DLiA) has partnered with award-winning hiking company A Walk in the Woods to present the fourth annual Great Smokies Eco-Adventure. Held Sunday, April 21, to Tuesday, April 23, this three-day, two-night “glamping” (glamorous camping) experience just outside of Gatlinburg includes off-the-grid lodging, gourmet food and drink, guided nature hikes — and it doubles as a fundraiser for DLiA, funding vital research on biodiversity in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“Time in nature has been proven to be not only beneficial, but also essential to our overall health and well-being,” said Jaimie Matzko, DLiA biodiversity program specialist. “We think of these trips as an opportunity for people to unplug and ‘adopt the pace of nature’ for a few days.”
As a nonprofit partner of the park, DLiA puts deeper connections with nature at the forefront of every excursion, encouraging participants to explore biodiversity by finding, identifying and learning about species in their natural habitats. While learning and making discoveries is the focus of the experience, the basic need for people to take a break from screens and spend more time outside cannot be overlooked. Despite research that shows the health benefits derived from spending time in nature, Americans spend an average of 93% of time indoors each day and only 21% of adults get the recommended 2½ hours of physical activity per week, according to the NPS Healthy Parks Healthy People 2018-2023 Strategic Plan.

“As a former backpacking and adventure guide in Great Smoky Mountains and Everglades National Park, I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible impact that even just a few days immersed in the natural world can have on someone,” Matzko said. “And I can’t imagine a better time to escape in the Smokies than during peak wildflower season in April.”
Adventurers spend their days exploring the wilds of the Smokies on expert-led nature hikes and their evenings and nights “glamping” at Camp Atagahi, a premiere off-the-grid luxury camping facility owned and operated by A Walk in the Woods. Evening activities include a night walk to learn about bioluminescent nocturnal life in the mountains and time around the campfire with new friends. All hikes and programs are led by entomologist Dr. Will Kuhn, science and research director for DLiA, and Matzko, the nonprofit’s biodiversity program specialist and recipient of REI Adventures’ “Top Guide of North America” award.

All proceeds from the Great Smokies Eco-Adventure support DLiA, a Gatlinburg-based nonprofit that aims to identify, catalog and observe the park’s estimated 60,000-plus species through its flagship project, the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. So far, only around 21,800 species have been officially identified by scientists, opening up opportunities for discovery on each and every outing.

Tickets for the Great Smokies Eco-Adventure are $950 per person, which includes all food (including vegan and gluten-free options) and libations, glamping accommodations, entertainment and transportation during the event. Tickets are limited, so those interested are encouraged to reserve their spots soon, as trips often sell out. Registration has been extended to April 8 or when all tickets are sold. For more information about the event, visit

Discover Life in America’s mission is connecting communities and scientists in discovering, understanding, and conserving the natural world. DLiA’s flagship project, the ATBI (All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory), is a joint effort with the National Park System to identify and understand every species within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To date, DLiA has helped add 12,083 species to the inventory of life in the park, including 1,079 that are new to science.


Sun., April 21, 12:00 pm
Tue., April 23, 4:00 pm
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A Walk in the Woods
4413 E Scenic Dr
Gatlinburg, TN 37738 United States
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