The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States! It has some of the best hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing you'll find in the U.S. We're sharing the inside scoop with you so you can plan your next trip to the Smokies.
Your Guide to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitor Centers
- January 31, 2019
If it’s your first time visiting the national park, you might have a few questions about what to see and how to get there. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor centers offer a variety of resources that help you to navigate through the park and have a truly memorable time! For your convenience, here is a guide to each of the visitor centers in the park.
1. Cades Cove Visitor Center
You can pick up park maps, or purchase books and guides to the park at any one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor centers. If you have any additional questions, there are even park rangers available on site to answer them for you. The Cades Cove Visitor Center is located inside the park near the midpoint of the one-way Cades Cove Loop Road. It’s open every day except Christmas Day at 9 a.m. You’ll find both indoor and outdoor exhibits of southern mountain life and culture. These exhibits include historic structures like the Cable Mill, a grist mill which operates spring through fall, and the Becky Cable house. There are also public restrooms here as well as a bookstore and shop for you to browse.
2. Sugarlands Visitor Center
The Sugarlands Visitor Center is located inside the park, 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on US-441. It’s open every day except Christmas Day at 8 a.m. Inside, you can watch a free 20-minute film about the park and walk through an extensive natural history exhibit that features native plant and wildlife species. You’ll also find a 3D map of the park, so you can see what the terrain looks like from above. There’s also a bookstore and shop that offers a variety of souvenirs like t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, books, and more!
3. Oconaluftee Visitor Center
About 2 miles north of Cherokee, NC, on US-441, you’ll find the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. It’s open every day except Christmas Day at 8 a.m. The museum exhibits here illustrate what life was like from the time periods of early European settlement all the way through the development of the national park. Next to it, you’ll see the Mountain Farm Museum, which features a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, applehouse, corn cribs and other log structures. This is another one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor centers with a bookstore and shop. There are also public restrooms and soda and water machines.
4. Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station
The Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station is located 7 miles off of US-441 on the Clingmans Dome Road. It’s open April through October at 9 a.m. and in November at 9:30 a.m. Like the other visitor centers, you’ll find a bookstore and shop here with a variety of park information and souvenirs. Public restrooms can also be found in the parking area.
Now that you know all about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor centers, it’s time to start planning your trip! If you haven’t been to the national park before, be sure to check out some of the best things to do when you visit for the first time to make your experience unforgettable!