The Southern Appalachian Mountains are not high enough to have a natural tree line or Alpine zone, yet the region has hundreds of treeless areas called balds. Their origins- whether or man-made or the product of climatic changes- still remain a mystery. Grassy balds are home to grasses, wildflowers, blueberries and azaleas. They are open and accessible and enjoyed for the broad vistas they provide. In the 19th century they were used as summer pasturing for sheep and cattle. Heath balds are covered by dense growth of the heath family, especially rhododendron and mountain laurel and their spring flowering attracts many visitors. On a sunny spring day, visit one of these natural gardens in the Smoky Mountain National Park and enjoy one of the marvels of the southern mountains.