Nightmare on Wolf Ridge

On January 3, 1978, a catastrophic malfunction sent a search-and-rescue helicopter plummeting into the Smokies near Wolf Ridge. Four of the eight crewmembers aboard the helicopter survived the crash, including park rangers Bill Acree and Dave Harbin. Provided by Bill Acree.

In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, law enforcement rangers regularly patrol the roads and trails responding to various incidents, medical emergencies, and search-and-rescue missions—all involving inherent dangers. A prime example of this dedication to public safety is that of Smokies park rangers Bill Acree and Dave Harbin, who survived a helicopter “mercy” mission that went […]

Lewis Redmond, the ‘King of the Moonshiners’

This illustration of Redmond's capture was featured in "The True Life of Maj. Redmond, the Notorious Outlaw and Moonshiner."

No one was more responsible for the romantic image of the moonshiner than Lewis Redmond. His story was chronicled in newspapers including the New York Times and the Atlanta Constitution, the National Police Gazette (a periodical geared toward the curious public), a short book entitled The True Life of Maj. Redmond, the Notorious Outlaw and […]

“The Green Tunnel” through the Smokies

Newfound Gap

The Appalachian Trail (AT) is an iconic American long-distance path. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it runs over 70 miles along the park’s high ridges and gaps, including Clingmans Dome, the highest point on the AT. For many hikers, it’s the premier trail in the park. And while the trail runs predominantly along the […]

Eric Mingus uncovers origins of a famous family’s saga

Eric Mingus and GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash unveil a new sign outside Mingus Mill in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at a ceremony held Tuesday, May 23, 2023. The new sign describes how the Mingus family experience in America touches on “some of the country’s sharpest historical notes.” Provided by Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Eric Mingus is intimately familiar with his father’s story. For better or worse, it’s a story that has followed him throughout his life and shaped his own path as a performing artist. The story goes something like this: Born in 1922, Charles Mingus Jr. came of age in Los Angeles, California, where he received training […]

Quill Rose: Making moonshine and telling tales on Eagle Creek

Aquilla “Quill” Rose, who writer George Ellison called a “Civil War veteran, fiddle player, storyteller, moonshiner, and hunter,” is the first of several famous or infamous moonshiners in the Smokies region who will be featured in this column. Dan Pierce in Corn from a Jar: Moonshining in the Great Smoky Mountains (GSMA, 2013), identified Rose […]

Camp Margaret Townsend: Wild women in the woods

A hand drawn map of Camp Margaret Townsend, which operated in Walker Valley from 1925 to 1959. Courtesy of Jeremy Lloyd.

I was perched one day on the stoop of my tiny apartment on the campus of Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont when an old woman walked up to me and said, “You’re sitting where my kitchen used to be.” I’ve had numerous encounters over the years with such individuals, each of whom spent time […]

Volunteer Robin Goddard helps bring park’s rich history to life

Walker Sisters Cabin. Photo by Donald Miller.

I never imagined a pumpkin might mean the difference between life and death. The only time I’ve ever paid the slightest attention to the large, lopsided orange fruit is during jack-o’-lantern and pumpkin pie season. Then I met Robin Goddard during my stint as the 2022 Steve Kemp Writer-in-Residence and was, as I have so […]

Inaugural Daisy Town Day shows that Elkmont is not a ghost town

If you’ve been to the Elkmont Historic District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ve probably come across a gathering of vacant buildings—many with wide porches, stone chimneys, and wooden shutters. Some of the buildings are slowly returning to nature, their leftover stonework an enduring declaration that they were once here. But many others are […]

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

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


865.436.7318 Ext 320