The most visited national park in the National Park System, with nine million visitors a year. The peak months are June
to August and October during spectacular autumn color. Lowest visitation occurs in winter months, November to
February, and early spring.
North Carolina, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS:
The park is open year-round. Visitor centers at Sugarlands and Oconaluftee are open all year, except Christmas Day.
Cades Cove Visitor Center has limited winter hours.
CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING:
Elevations in the park range from 800 feet to 6,643 feet and topography affects local weather. Temperatures are 10 to
20 degrees cooler on the mountaintops. Annual precipitation averages 65 inches in the lowlands to 88 inches in the high
country. Spring often brings unpredictable weather, particularly in higher elevations. Summer is hot and humid, but more
pleasant in higher elevations. Fall has warm days and cool nights and is the driest period, and frosts occur starting in late
September. Winter is generally moderate, but extreme conditions occur with increasing elevation.
Several major highways lead to the Park. The following routes provide access to the three main entrances. In
Tennessee: 1)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. 2) 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 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.
To Park: the nearest major airport in Tennessee (McGhee-Tyson, TYS) is Alcoa, 45 miles west of Gatlinburg. North
Carolina's, Asheville Airport is 60 miles east of the park. No train or bus service accesses the Park.
In Park: personal vehicle, limited trolley service from Gatlinburg.
FEES, COSTS, RATES:
No entrance fee. Fees charged at developed campgrounds and for certain special programs.
FACILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES:
Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, is open year-round and offers an orientation program and natural
history exhibits. Oconaluftee Visitor Center, near Cherokee, NC, is also open year-round and its exhibits focus on
mountain life of the late 1800s. Adjacent to the visitor center is the Mountain Farm Museum, a collection of historic farm
buildings. Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, (closed in winter), sits among preserved historic buildings
representing isolated farming communities of the 1800s.
More than 800 miles of trails provide opportunities ranging from ten-minute saunters on quiet walkways to week-long
adventures deep in the forest. There are about 170 miles of paved roads and over 100 miles of gravel roads. The
"backroads" offer a chance to escape traffic and enjoy the more remote areas of the park.
During the summer and fall, the park provides regularly scheduled ranger-led interpretive walks and talks, slide
presentations, and campfire programs at campgrounds and visitor centers.
Lodging and camping facilities:
LeConte Lodge, accessible only by foot or horseback, sits atop 6,593 Mt. LeConte, the Park's third highest peak.
Reservations are required and can be made by calling (423) 429-5704. The lodge is open mid-March to
mid-November. A variety of lodging facilities are available in the outlying communities.
Frontcountry Campgrounds: There are ten developed campgrounds. Cades Cove in Tennessee and Smokemont in
North Carolina are open year round. The other campgrounds are generally open from late March April to early
November. Camping fees range from $10.00 to $15.00 per night.
Backcountry Campsites: Backcountry camping is free but requires a permit. Most campsites use self-registration at
visitor centers or ranger stations, but shelters and rationed sites require reservations. Reservations can be made 30 days
in advance by calling (423) 436-1231, 8:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. daily. For backcountry trip planning information, call (423)
436-1297, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily.
There are no food facilities in the park. Numerous convenience stores and restaurants establishments are located in
Other Concessions/NPS-Managed Visitor Facilities and
Horse rentals are available in season at five horse stables in the park in Tennessee and North Carolina.
Wheelchair accessible facilities, including restrooms, are located at the three major campgrounds, Cades Cove and
Elkmont in Tennessee and Smokemont in North Carolina, visitor centers, and many picnic areas. Campsites
reservations can be made for the period May 15 to October 31 by calling Destinet at 1(800) 365-CAMP. A five-foot
wide paved and level accessibility trail, Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, is a quarter mile south of Sugarlands Visitor
Center. Specially designed communications media, including tactile and wayside exhibits, large print brochures and a
cassette version are part of the trail.
RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES/PARK USE:
Camping, hiking, picnicking, sightseeing, fishing, auto touring, horseback riding, nature viewing, and photographic
For information on archeology, visit SEAC
BASIC VISIT RECOMMENDATIONS:
Plan your visit to the park by stopping at one of the visitor centers or writing ahead to obtain information. Also be sure
to acquire safety information/tips pertaining to your planned activity, especially if you are not familiar with the area.
SPECIAL EVENTS, PROGRAMS:
The park holds a variety of annual events, including Old Timers' Day, storytelling, a quilt show, Women's Work,
Mountain Life Festival, sorghum molasses and apple butter making, as well as living history demonstrations.
In winter during hazardous weather conditions, the two main roads will close. Do not leave valuables in your car.
Adhere to Park rules and regulations.
ADJACENT VISITOR ATTRACTIONS:
There are many and quite a variety of visitor attractions. Contact area Chambers of Commerce.
The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is a year-round residential environmental education center in the
Smokies which offers workshops and programs for everyone, from grade school children to Eldershostel groups and
teachers. Programs may include hiking, slide shows on flora and fauna, mountain music, living history, and wildlife
demonstrations. A fee is charged. For more information, call (423) 448-6709.
The Smoky Mountain Field School offers weekend workshops, hikes, and adventures for adults throughout the year. In
cooperation with the National Park Service and University of Tennessee, experts in the fields of Smoky Mountain flora
and fauna lead programs. A fee is charged. For more information call 1(800) 284-8885.
FRIENDS OF THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Organized in 1993 to help the park through direct funding and outside financial support, the Friends operate under a
cooperative agreement with the National Park Service. Dedicated to restoring, preserving and enhancing the park, their
partnership provides needed help in the current fiscal atmosphere. To contact Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park write them at 134 Court Avenue, Sevierville, TN 37862, or call (423)436-2428.
Obtain a $.25 copy of the park newspaper, Smokies Guide. It offers current information on interpretive programs and
services. It is available at visitor centers and campgrounds or write Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park
Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. A sales publication catalog listing books, videos, maps, guides, and more is
available from Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association by writing 115 Park Headquarters Road,
Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Items are also available for sale at the visitor centers. Visit the Online Bookstore.