Naturalist Adventure Outings

Naturalist Adventure Outings in The Smokies

Just Get Outdoors with Liz for a One- or Two-Day Adventure in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

For most Outings, we will meet in Townsend, TN before heading into the park.

Just Get Outdoors is authorized by the National Park Service to provide guided

trips in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and 

Liz  has more than 23 years of experience leading trips in the Smokies!!

Are you having difficulty trying to find enough time to join a week-long JGO Naturalist Adventure Tour? If so, I believe I have the perfect solution: a 1- or 2-day Naturalist Adventure Outing, for those of you who just can’t swing a full week. 

Join me on spring, summer and fall Outings to experience Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During each Outing, we’ll hike a different trail each day, with trails chosen specifically to highlight the most current natural event(s) in the park. 

Our hikes will lead us through the most awesome carpets of wildflowers in the spring, the most spectacular azaleas seen anywhere and the incredible beauty and grandeur of fall colors in the Smokies. Photography weekends will highlight a variety of subjects for all of you who enjoy nature photography. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is simply fantastic! For more information, to register for an Outing, or to plan your own custom outing please contact Liz.

Spring Wildflowers, Fall Colors, Salamanders, Nature Photography, Day Hikes, Fireflies, Naturalist Interpretation, Smoky Mountain Scenery, Azaleas, Explore the Smokies With an Expert!

Spring in the Smokies

The Smokies offers the most spectacular spring wildflower display in the Appalachian Mountains. We will be in the park during peak spring wildflower bloom. The mountains and hollows are springing to life as wildflowers grace the forest floor with their incredible displays of whites, purples, blues, yellows and reds. This is enhanced by the many hues of spring green from a great variety of plants sprouting their new leaves. Incredible! 

Birds are very visible as they flood the forests and fields, filling the air with their vibrant songs. These are some of the sights and sounds to be experienced and absorbed during a Smoky Mountain spring. To experience this most wonderful time in the Smokies, Just Get Outdoors with Liz for her Wildflower Outings or her Nature Photography workshops!


April 11, 12, 2024 -   Wildflower Outing in the Smokies 

Don’t miss the most diverse and incredible wildflower display in the Appalachians! 

I am offering two days of hiking to provide opportunities for you to enjoy the peak spring wildflower season! We will have plenty of time to “stop and smell the flowers,” to take photographs, and to enjoy the Smokies in all of its Spring glory.

You can join me for one day, or if you are like me and can’t get enough of the exceptional beauty of spring in the Smokies, join me for a second day. We will make new discoveries along the way and investigate anything that crosses our path and catches our interest. 

 **Trails will be selected just prior to each trip, dependent on where the best wildflower displays are occurring at the time.

June 2, 3, 4 and 5, 2024  -  Synchronous Fireflies and Naturalist’s Ramble 

By day we will hike a trail in the Smokies and investigate whatever crosses our path and catches our interest. This will include anything from birds, salamanders and other wildlife to wildflowers and other plants, as well as animal tracks and traces. By Night we will spend an evening with Synchronous Fireflies! This is a sight to see because these special fireflies light up in synchrony and they are found only in the Smokies and in Thailand (& a few other places)  – the Smokies are a lot closer for most of us.

This also will be a special opportunity for kids to enjoy learning about the natural world and have a safe, fun experience in the park at night. We will even call for Barred Owls while we enjoy the light show. Maybe we will get one or two owls to respond and come in for a closer look to check us out.

You can join me for my Naturalist’s Ramble and the Synchronous Fireflies, or you can come for one or the other, the choice is yours. 

Naturalist’s Ramble and Synchronous Fireflies - $120

Naturalist’s Ramble only - $95

Synchronous Fireflies only - $35

** I offer special discounted rates for families and for groups with 5 or more people. Total group size for this program is limited to 15 (maximum) and a minimum of 5 Firefly Watchers is required for the evening outing.

**Children must be 5 years or older to attend.

June 25 - 27 (see below) & 28, 2024    Azaleas and Scenic Grassy Balds 

Join me for Naturalist Rambles to Andrew’s Bald and Gregory’s Bald, two of the most scenic grassy balds in the Smokies! There is no better place to see the variety and abundance of azalea blooms than on these balds. Both are an awesome display of color and Smoky Mountain beauty. 

Hiking on weekdays will help us avoid the plethora of weekend hikers!

We will hike 1.8 miles (3.6 mi roundtrip) to Andrew's Bald to see the display of the many shades of our native Flame Azaleas. The azaleas should be at their peak bloom and Catawba Rhododendron may still be in bloom as well. Wow! As a most special bonus, Andrew's Bald offers a fantastic mountain view.

June 25 - 27, 2024: This year, we will be backpacking in about 2 miles and staying overnight to enjoy a shorter day hike to Gregory Bald (7.5 miles versus more than 9 miles). It's a wonderful trip which includes a pleasant experience in the backcountry and the unique Flame Azaleas of Gregory Bald. Please contact me (Liz) directly for more information. 

We will also make our way to Gregory’s Bald (a 9- or 11.3-mile roundtrip hike, depending on which route we take) where the variety of colors of azaleas is unmatched anywhere. We’ll see reds, pinks, oranges, yellows and fragrant whites. We will enjoy another outstanding view from Gregory's Bald. Overnight backpack and day hike to Gregory's Bald planned (June 25 - 27). Please contact Liz for details.

September  26, 2024     The Elk of Cataloochee and Fall Colors Too

Yes, elk are back in the Smokies! Join me for a beautiful Fall day in Cataloochee including a short hike and elk watching. This serene, picturesque mountain cove is nestled in a quieter part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is home to a sizeable elk herd. 

We will hike a Smokies trail and investigate whatever crosses our path and catches our interest. This will include anything from birds, salamanders and other wildlife to wildflowers and other plants, as well as animal tracks and traces. In the afternoon we'll settle in to watch for elk in the valley.

This is prime mating season for elk, (called the rut), and it means we will likely have the opportunity to experience some pretty amazing sights and sounds. Hearing an elk bugle is a very special experience, and observing the behavior of these wild animals up close is both impressive and remarkable. 

A large member of the deer family, elk are native to the eastern and western United States. Learn about the general biology, ecology, and history of elk in the U.S. We’ll also discuss the reintroduction of elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.   Costs and Inclusions for Naturalist Adventure Outings

October 28 & 29, 2024    Smoky Mountain Autumn Splendor

Although there is much to see, absorb, and enjoy in the Smokies year-round, autumn is a special time because of the chance to experience the incredible fall color display. 

Because the climate at higher elevations is similar to those found in New England, the leaves can begin to change color as early as mid-September. From October 1-15, fall colors typically reach their peak above 4000 feet in elevation. The most spectacular and more colorful display occurs at the mid and lower elevations where fall colors peak between October 15 and November 5. This is also the time of year when black bear and other animals are busily preparing for winter, making them easier to view. Although there are no guarantees with nature, we should have a good chance of sighting wildlife and an excellent chance of seeing fall color during our hikes. 

Join me for one or two days of naturalist guided hikes in the Smokies this fall. Experience the beauty of this very special place during the colorful autumn season. We will hike a different trail each day, making new discoveries along the way and investigating anything that crosses our path and catches our interest. 

**Trails will be selected just prior to each trip, dependent on where the best fall color displays are occurring at the time.

These are going to be pleasant Outings spent enjoying and learning about the natural world. Sure hope you can join me.

TBA - Nature Photography Workshops    

Photographing wildflowers, waterfalls, wildlife, fall colors, and more… Let Liz know of your interest in a 1- or 2-day workshop!

If you would like to improve your basic photography skills and learn more about nature photography, this workshop is for you! You will learn to compose pictures of beautiful landscapes, wildflowers, and wildlife (as opportunities arise) while enhancing your skills of observation and your enjoyment of the natural world. You will also learn about the various plants and animals that we photograph. As time and desire permits, we will spend some time discussing and critiquing your images as well. 

Please join me for a two-day workshop to learn the basic techniques and skills of being a nature photographer, to enhance and build upon your current skills, and for the pure enjoyment of participating in this creative outlet. This will be a hands-on experience with our time spent outdoors seeking photographic and learning opportunities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Costs and Inclusions for Naturalist Adventure Outings