Six weeks in the park—Part 7: Spirit

Cades Cove church pews. Provided by Maggie Gordon.

Editor’s Note: This is the final essay in a series written about Railback’s stay in the park from June 22 to August 4, 2023. My days at this place I’ve called Second Acts are coming to an end, and that old human rooting instinct wants to hold me fast to what feels like home. Haunted by […]

Six weeks in the park—Part 6: The story of a bear

Park wildlife biologist Ryan Williamson and another member of his staff taking the vitals of a darted bear. Provided by Ryan Williamson.

Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series written during Railback’s stay in the park from June 22 to August 4, 2023. July 11: I am writing in a fever dream, words flying onto the page as I reach the final paragraph of the novel I’ve come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to write, […]

Six weeks in the park—Part 5: Stumpy erit ultionem

Stumpy the whistle pig. Provided by Brian Railsback.

Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series written during Railback’s stay in the park from June 22 to August 4, 2023. I quietly stand in a corner of the main room of the Dan Lawson house on a hot afternoon in July, watching four barn swallow chicks pop their heads up from a mud […]

Six weeks in the park—Part 4: Bad looping

Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series written during Railback’s stay in the park from June 22 to August 4, 2023. I try to bike Cades Cove Loop every day, but this afternoon I hesitate at the entrance. The line of vehicles extends from beyond the information kiosk to down the road as far […]

Six weeks in the Park—Part 3: Good looping

Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series written during Railback’s stay in the park from June 22 to August 4, 2023. Afternoons here are for looping. July days are hot and humid. I stick a water bottle in my pocket, put sunscreen on, strap on the helmet, and ride my bike from the front […]

Six weeks in the Park—Part 2: Camp walks

Though modern gadgetries could be found throughout, Railsback likened the Cades Cove campground to a neighborhood from half a century ago. Provided by NPS.

Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series written during Railback’s stay in the park from June 22 to August 4, 2023. At this Great Smoky Mountains National Park apartment that I call Second Acts, dusk is the time for camp walks. The stream of cars leaving Cades Cove Loop Road thins out. As the […]

Six Weeks in the Park—Part 1: Second Acts

Foggy morning at Cable Mill in Cades Cove.

Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series written during Railback’s stay in the park from June 22 to August 4, 2023. I live at a place called Second Acts, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You will not find Second Acts on a map; this is the name I’ve given my home for […]

Great Smokies

Welcome Center

Hours of Operation

(subject to change)

Open year round (closed December 25)


January - February

Open Daily 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

March - November

Open Daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
December

Open Daily 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

The Great Smokies Welcome Center is located on U.S. 321 in Townsend, TN, 2 miles from the west entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors can get information about things to see and do in and around the national park and shop from a wide selection of books, gifts, and other Smokies merchandise. Daily, weekly, and annual parking tags for the national park are also available.

Physical Address

7929 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway Townsend TN 37882

Contact

865.436.7318 Ext 320