The Southern Appalachians are some of the oldest mountains on Earth and have the nation's most ecologically diverse forests and watersheds, with internationally significant aquatic diversity. The region has more than four million acres of federal land, including the nation's most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains, with more than 9 million visitors a year. The Southern Appalachians also host the greatest diversity of salamanders found on Earth and the cove hardwood forests of the Smokies are the most diverse temperate forest on Earth, with the possible exception of the mountains of southwestern China. This talk will focus on the terrestrial plants and animals of Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Roan Mountain (elev 6285 ft, Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests). In particular, Roan Mountain is famous for its hundreds of acres of native Catawba Rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense). The Red-cheeked Salamander (Plethodon jordani), named for Cornell Graduate David Starr Jordan, is found nowhere else in the world except Great Smoky Mountains National Park.