Cumberland Gap NHP 2018 programs to illuminate ‘A Legendary Land’

Published 3:55 pm Thursday, February 8, 2018

On Saturday, retired Tennessee State Forester Steve Roark will present “For the Love of the Landscape,” the prelude for Cumberland Gap National Historical Park’s 2018 program series “The Cumberland Gap — A Legendary Land.”

With his unique storytelling ability, Roark will open visitors’ eyes to the land, seamlessly leading all on a journey showcasing how the land shapes the nature it nurtures, how this land has shaped man, and how man has shaped the land.

Visitors will first meet at the national park visitor center at 10 a.m. where Roark will captivate with a primer on the land, the forests upon it, and the animals living within. Then, the story comes to life as weather permitting all journey skyward to the Pinnacle Overlook which provides a splendid view of the mountains.

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Park Ranger Lucas Wilder explains that throughout the year, “An exciting blend of hikes, campfire programs, concerts, a one person play, Gap Cave and Hensley Settlement tours, moonlight walks, and hands-on demonstrations will illuminate this magnificent land, its rich history, and its extraordinary people.”

The focal point of the year will be during the Labor Day Weekend when CaveSim will be brought to the park. CaveSim is the world’s only cave simulator and provides a safe and easy way for visitors of all abilities to become acquainted with caves. The Labor Day weekend will also include presentations on the meteor crater in which Middlesboro is cradled, special Gap Cave tours, and the mist netting of bats.

Wilder, a native of Lee County, Virginia, whose love for this land has led to his pursuit of a Ph.D. in history, explains the 1792 quote of James Smith as being the perfect metaphor for the park’s 2018 program offerings: “We started just as the sun began to gild the tops of the high mountains. We ascended Cumberland Mountain, from the top of which the bright luminary of day appeared to our view in all his rising glory; the mists dispersed and the floating clouds hastened away at his appearing. This is the famous Cumberland Gap…”

For information on this free program and other park programs, call 606-246-1075 or visit

Programs are also being co-hosted by the Friends of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and Eastern National. Find the Friends on Facebook at Learn how Eastern National supports the educational mission of the National Park Service by visiting