Grey Towers National Historic Site Celebrates Smokey Bear’s 80th Birthday

Members News

June 10, through June 21, 2024, Grey Towers National Historic Site will host several historic Smokey Bear paintings that can be viewed for free. We are excited to be just one of 14 national forests and grasslands in the Nation to host the paintings by Rudolph (Rudy) Wendelin. The national painting tour is part of Smokey Bear’s 2024 birthday celebration.

On loan from the USDA National Agricultural Library, these replica paintings were completed from 1977 through 1995 and remain the most famous depictions of Smokey Bear. Painter Rudy Wendelin worked for the Forest Service as an illustrator beginning in 1933 and was the mastermind behind Smokey’s human like appearance in his signature ranger hat and blue jeans. Thanks to Wendelin’s art, Smokey’s message “Only YOU can prevent wildfires” has prevailed through the generations.

The paintings will be located in the mansion tower and will be available for free viewing from June 10 to June 21, 2024, from 10:30am until 3:00pm. There will be ticketed public museum tours offered as well on Thursdays through Mondays at 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm for the month of June. Tours last approximately one hour and are the ground floor museum and the gardens area. Tickets are $10.00 per adult, 12-17 year olds are $5.00 and 11 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased the day of the tour in person at our Visitor Center located at the historic outbuilding the Letterbox. Sunday June 16, 2024, Grey Towers will be offering a open house with a reduce adult rate of $5.00. The first floor museum will be open for ticketed guest to walk through from noon until 3pm. For groups over 12 visitors, please contact the Jared Simister at to arrange a group tour.

In the event that the collection delivery is delayed, adjusted details on viewing the Smokey Bear paintings will be posted to our website and our Facebook page The public can do their part to prevent human-caused wildfires and take Smokey’s message #onlyyou personally this year. Smokey Bear turns 80 this August, and the Forest Service is keen on celebrating this milestone to increase fire prevention awareness across the country. More information on Smokey Bear and his message can be viewed at