Great Smoky Mountains National Park Welcomes Its First Female Head Ranger

Tennessee native Lisa Hendy will become the chief ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in April, helping to protect the 522,419 acres that run between Tennessee and North Carolina.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S., and Hendy will be the first-ever female chief ranger in the park’s 85-year history.

It’s a homecoming for Hendy, who grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and had her first backpacking experiences in the Smoky Mountains. As she explained in a press release:

I am looking forward to returning to my home state in the park that provided my first real outdoor adventures. It will be a pleasure to be involved in the efforts to protect a place that was so instrumental in defining my passions and ultimately my career.

Hendy is clearly well-qualified for this position. Her passion for the outdoors led to her first National Park Service position in 1993 as an intern at Yosemite National Park. Hendy subsequently worked summers as a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park from 1993 to 2004, and she spent one season at Yellowstone National Park, before moving on to Grand Canyon National Park from 2004 to 2012. Hendy then returned to Yosemite as emergency manager for four years and became a chief ranger for the first time in 2016, when she moved to Big Bend National Park in Texas.

In other words, Hendy has been lucky to spend years at some of the most beautiful places in the U.S., but she’s also worked extremely hard.

Park Superintendent Cassius Cash announced Hendy’s appointment:

Lisa has demonstrated incredible leadership in managing law enforcement, fire, search and rescue operations at some of the nation’s busiest parks. She’s built strong programs by investing in local partnerships with neighboring agencies to help make areas safer for visitors and residents. She is going to be a great addition to the park’s management team.

In 2011, Hendy was awarded the prestigious Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award, one of the highest honors for a park ranger.

“I was doing a lot of cool backcountry work, canyoneering trips, solo trips in kayaks and the normal eight-day patrols we would do on foot in the backcountry,” said Hendy. “They’re all solo, so it requires an amount of prowess in the wilderness to be able to do that effectively.”

This woman is amazing!

Hendy’s new job will cover a huge range of responsibilities. According to the National Park Service, she will oversee the park’s law enforcement division, search and rescue operations, backcountry operations and emergency communications, as well as wildland fire operations and emergency medical services.

great-smoky-mountains

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The National Park Service describes the park as follows:  

Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.

There are 61 national parks in the U.S. and in case you need convincing of the natural wonders they contain, here’s a pretty compelling slideshow.

There are many reasons to visit our national treasures: these parks contain some of the most stunning landscapes in the country. California’s Redwood National Park has the tallest trees in the world, and Utah’s Arches National Park has more than 2,000 natural stone arches.

Once you are immersed in this gorgeous scenery, away from the buzz of your normal routine, you can relax, find your place in the universe and let your imagination soar.

You can also learn about conservation, thanks to the National Park Service, which has spent over 100 years preserving biodiversity and working to recover over 1,000 endangered species.

And it’s not just nature. The NPS also protects and restores historical buildings, trails and ancient archaeological sites. Another benefit: Visiting and camping in a national park is much cheaper than paying for a hotel.

National parks are awesome, and so is Lisa Hendy. Congratulations to the first female chief ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

66 comments

David C
David C26 days ago

amazing place, amazing woman, amazing person

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Louise A
Louise A29 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Caitlin L
Past Member about a month ago

thank you

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Coo R
Coo Rabout a month ago

as long as the best candidate got the job :)

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Clare O'Beara
Clare Oabout a month ago

like Nevada Barr's early books

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Clare O'Beara
Clare Oabout a month ago

beautiful

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Clare O'Beara
Clare Oabout a month ago

th

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Clare O'Beara
Clare Oabout a month ago

well done all

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Paula A
Past Member about a month ago

Good

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Chad A
Chad Aabout a month ago

Thank you.

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