Ridge upon ridge of endless forest straddle the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the largest protected areas in the Eastern United States.
World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, and the depth and integrity of its wilderness sanctuary, the park attracts over nine million visitors each year. Once a part of the Cherokee homeland, the Smokies today are a hiker's paradise with over 800 miles of trails.
The Smokies offer activities for visitors of various ages and interests. Recommended activities include camping, hiking the park's more than 800 miles of trails, picnicking, sightseeing, fishing, auto touring, horseback riding, nature viewing, and photographic opportunities abound. Guided horseback rides are available in season at four horse stables in the park in Tennessee and North Carolina.
Cades Cove Visitor Center
- Indoor and outdoor exhibits of Southern Mountain life and culture. Includes Cable Mill, a grist mill which operates spring through fall, the Becky Cable house, and other historic structures. Ranger-led programs are conducted seasonally. Check at the visitor center for times. Located inside the park near the mid-point of the 11-mile, one-way Cades Cove Loop Road.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center
- The adjacent Mountain Farm Museum contains a fascinating collection of log structures including a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, applehouse, corn cribs and others. Demonstrations of farm life are conducted seasonally. Located inside the park, 2 miles north of Cherokee, NC, on US 441.
Sugarlands Visitor Center
- Free admission to 20-minute film with Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Extensive natural history exhibits. Ranger-led programs conducted seasonally. Check at the visitor center for locations and times. Located inside the park, 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on US 441.
Gatlinburg Welcome Center - Downtown
- Great Smoky Mountains Association bookstore and shop. City of Gatlinburg information. Public restrooms and telephones. Located at traffic light #3 on the parkway in downtown Gatlinburg.
Gatlinburg Welcome Center - On the Spur between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg
- Great Smoky Mountains Association bookstore and shop. City of Gatlinburg information. Public restrooms and telephones. Located 2 miles outside of Gatlinburg on 441 South.
Smoky Mountain Visitor Center
- Great Smoky Mountains Association bookstore and shop. Sevier County, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville information. Public restrooms and telephones. Located at I-40 exit 407 (Highway 66) in the Smokies Stadium complex.
Townsend Visitor Center
- Great Smoky Mountains Association bookstore and shop. Townsend and local area information. Public restrooms and telephones. Located in Townsend, Tennessee, on US 321.
Cable Mill in Cades Cove
- Water-powered grist mill. Located inside the park near the mid-point of the 11-mile, one-way Cades Cove Loop Road.
Mingus Mill near Oconaluftee
- Turbine-powered grist mill. Located inside the park, 2 miles north of Cherokee, NC, on US 441.
Entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Free!
Fees are charged for activities such as overnight camping ($14-23 per night) and pavilion rental at picnic areas (reservations may be necessary).
Several major highways lead to the park. The following routes provide access to the three main
From I-40 take Exit 407 (Sevierville) to TN Route 66 South, and continue to U.S. 441 South. Follow U.S. 441 to Park.
From I-40 in Knoxville - Exit 386B U.S. Highway 129 South to Alcoa/Maryville. At Maryville proceed on U.S. 321 North through Townsend. Continue straight on TN Highway 73 into the park.
In North Carolina:
From I-40, take U.S. Route 19 West through Maggie Valley. Proceed to U.S. 441 North at Cherokee into the park. From Atlanta and points south: follow U.S. 441 and 23 North. U.S. 441 leads to the park.