Oconaluftee Visitor Center
November 30, 2023

When you come to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are so many amazing activities that await you! With all the excitement, you may not think of the visitor centers at the park as destinations that you should visit, but there is actually a lot to do at these locations. There are 4 total visitor centers located throughout the park at Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, Cades Cove, and Clingmans Dome. Let’s explore some of the best things to do at these Smoky Mountains visitor centers:

1. Enjoy Gorgeous Views

One of the best things to do at some of these Smoky Mountains visitor centers is to take in the spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. If you are looking for views specifically, the Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station is likely the visitor center you will want to check out. Here, you can see the Smoky Mountains from the highest point in the entire park while taking advantage of convenient amenities at the visitor center such as public restrooms and snacks for purchase.

2. Participate in Ranger-Conducted Programs

A small action figure of a National Park Ranger represents the Junior Ranger program.

Another of the top things to do at the Smoky Mountains visitor centers is to participate in ranger-conducted programs that take place seasonally at several of these locations. Ranger-conducted programs allow visitors to connect with various aspects of the park, including history, wildlife, and more. These activities vary based on the time of year, but can be enjoyed at Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove.

3. Check Out the Park Bookstore and Shop

At each of these visitor centers, you will be able to browse a selection of books, gifts, souvenirs, snacks, and more! The park bookstore and shop provides a convenient way to grab any essential items you might need along with fun keepsakes to commemorate your time in the Smoky Mountains.

4. Explore Exhibits and Museums

cades cove visitor center

Another of the great things to do at the Smoky Mountains visitor centers is to explore the various exhibits and museums that are at these locations. For instance, at Sugarlands Visitor Center, you can learn about plant and animal life at the park with a natural history exhibit, while Oconaluftee Visitor Center features a cultural history exhibit. And at Cades Cove, you can walk through historic structures that show the spirit of the Smoky Mountains’ early pioneers.

5. Get Your Questions Answered

Are you wondering where the nearest waterfall is located? Or where you will have the best chance to spot wildlife? Perhaps you are looking for somewhere to take a scenic drive. No matter what your questions about the park may be, you can get answers at the Smoky Mountains visitor centers! Speak with a park ranger or staff member at these visitor centers to get accurate and up-to-date information about the park. This is just another of the things to do at the Smoky Mountains visitor centers!

As you can see, there are plenty of things to do at the Smoky Mountains visitor centers, which is why those in the know make them part of their trips to the park. Learn more about each of the Smoky Mountains visitor centers here and get ready for adventures here at Great Smoky Mountains National Park!