The spring four-flasher is a widespread species of firefly found in various grassy habitats, including hay fields and meadows, across the eastern United States. The most common flash pattern for this species is a string of three or four pulses of greenish-yellow light about a half second apart followed by four seconds of darkness. Provided by DLiA.

DNA barcoding confirms firefly species in the park

Anyone who watches murder mystery TV shows or listens to true-crime podcasts has probably heard of the use of DNA analysis in forensic science to exonerate or implicate a suspect. But what if DNA analysis could also be used to solve the mystery of who lives in Great Smoky Mountains

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Smokies Life launches national search for next CEO

Smokies Life, formerly Great Smoky Mountains Association, has launched a national search for its next Chief Executive Officer. This campaign follows a retirement announcement, made public at the end of 2023, from current CEO Laurel Rematore. Respected as an innovator throughout the network of U.S. public lands, Rematore has been

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Scenic photo of fog taken by Michele Sons.

The art of fog

From swirling clouds enveloping Clingmans Dome to mystical mornings in Cades Cove, fog and mist play a leading role in the story of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fog can be found here throughout the year and across all elevations, delivering both immense beauty and mood as well as playing

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The “Experience Your Smokies” program instills a deep sense of responsible stewardship while giving participants an experience they will remember for years to come. The application period for the class of 2024 is now open and will close on February 20, 2024.

Memorable moments from Experience Your Smokies 2023

On a sunny July morning in the heart of Cades Cove, 25 strangers don waders and tromp through the woods down an old manway to a secluded spot on Abrams Creek. They gather at the edge of the water where Great Smoky Mountains National Park fisheries biologists and seasonal interns

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Tremont Writers Conference now accepting applications for 2024 retreat

Park partner Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont recently announced that the second annual Tremont Writers Conference, created in collaboration with Smokies Life, is now accepting applications. Applications to participate in the five-day retreat for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry may be submitted online now through April 30 at

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Great Smoky Mountains Association is now Smokies Life

Last year, Great Smoky Mountains Association celebrated a significant milestone: 70 consecutive years of supporting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since its founding in 1953, this organization has provided more than $50 million in direct aid to the park supporting dozens of seasonal rangers and interns who protect and interpret

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Limpkin court harding

Strange species make ‘accidental’ appearances in the park

Red-necked phalarope, Bonaparte’s gull, band-rumped storm-petrel, and harlequin duck. If you are thinking these don’t sound like names that should be included in a story about Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’re right. These birds aren’t usually in the park. But they have been documented as “accidentals”—species that show up

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Cades Cove church pews. Provided by Maggie Gordon.

Six weeks in the park—Part 7: Spirit

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

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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.

Nightmare on Wolf Ridge

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

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

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

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

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Recent Posts

Photo courtesy of Joye Ardyn Durham

Scenic photo of fog taken by Michele Sons.

The art of fog

From swirling clouds enveloping Clingmans Dome to mystical mornings in Cades Cove, fog and mist play a leading role in the story of Great Smoky

Read More >
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.

Nightmare on Wolf Ridge

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

Read More >

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