Start Your Hiking Adventure at a Smoky Mountain National Park Visitor Center

December 22, 2020

Make the most of your time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park by starting your day at one of the park’s 4 visitor centers! These convenient facilities are the perfect place to plan your hike since they feature park maps and various books for sale with detailed hiking information. You can also speak to a park ranger who can make hiking suggestions based on what you want to see! Here is the detailed information about each Smoky Mountain National Park Visitor Center:

1. Cades Cove Visitor Center

cades cove signThe Cades Cove Visitor Center is located near the midpoint of the Cades Cove Loop Road, a popular one-way driving loop that features an abundance of wildlife and historical buildings. This area also features hikes such as the 5 mile round trip trail to Abrams Falls and the short Cades Cove Nature Trail. The Cades Cove Visitor Center is open daily throughout the year with the exception of Christmas, and the doors open each morning at 9 am. While the closing times vary based on the season, it is open each day until at least 4:30 pm. In addition to the public restrooms, bookstore, and a shop, you will find indoor and outdoor exhibits of Southern Mountain life and culture, a grist mill that operates spring through fall, and the Becky Cable house.

2. Oconaluftee Visitor Center

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is located 2 miles north of Cherokee NC on US-441 and is also open daily except for Christmas. You can start your day here every morning at 8 am, but closing times vary with the earliest closing time at 4:30 p,. This Smoky Mountain National Park Visitor Center features exhibits that tell the story of life in the Smokies from native Americans and early European settlement time periods through the Civilian Conservation Corp and the development of the national park. There is also a Mountain Farm Museum next door that contains a collection of log structures such as a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, applehouse, and corn cribs.

3. Sugarlands Visitor Center

hiking trail in the smokiesThe Sugarlands Visitor Center is one of the most popular destinations in the park as it is conveniently located just 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on US-441. In fact, you can actually hike there from the outskirts of Gatlinburg along the Gatlinburg Trail! This pleasant 1.9-mile hike travels through the forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River and crosses the river at one point via a pedestrian footbridge. The Sugarlands Visitor Center features extensive natural history exhibits and free admission to a 20 minute film about the park. It is open daily at 9 am and closing times vary with the earliest closure at 4:30 pm. Please note that the facility is closed on Christmas Day.

4. Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station

The Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station is located at the Clingmans Dome trailhead, which is 7 miles off US-441 on the Clingmans Dome Road. This Smoky Mountain National Park Visitor Center features park information, a bookstore and shop, and public restrooms in the parking area. The facility is open from 10 am to 6 pm in April and May, 10 am to 4 pm from June to August, 10 am to 6 pm in September and October, and 9:30 am to 5 pm in November.

Now since you know the details about each Smoky Mountain National Park Visitor Center, you know just where to go to begin your hiking adventure! If you want to start planning your next trip in advance, be sure to check out the top trails for hiking in the Smoky Mountains!