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, […]

Safe Passage film fest highlights road ecology

On Thursday, October 26, the Safe Passage Fund Coalition will host a free film screening at Asheville’s Pléb Urban Winery presenting the short documentaries Cascade Crossroads and Critter Crossings in the Cascades. Members of the Safe Passage group dedicated to improving wildlife-crossing opportunities along I-40 in the Pigeon River Gorge hope to draw lessons and inspiration from the films following the progress of similar efforts in Washington’s Cascade Range.

One of the great benefits and privileges of exploring Western North Carolina and East Tennessee is the opportunity to see a diverse array of wildlife wherever you go. But whether you live here or are just passing through, chances are you’ll mostly be watching the spectacle from behind a windshield. Driving from Great Smoky Mountains […]

National Parks Conservation Association connects veterans to the outdoors

Since 2016, National Parks Conservation Association has worked to provide advocacy opportunities for veterans, service members, and their families by connecting them to park protection campaigns. The nonprofit seeks meaningful opportunities to educate veterans on the issues facing parks such as Olympic National Park where this group is hiking. Courtesy of Jimi Shaughnessy, National Parks Conservation Association.

Tranquil water bubbles in a cold mountain stream. In the distance, hikers can be heard making their way to the trailhead. Trees are adorned with lichens and mosses. The sun is shining, and there is not a cloud in the sky. It is a fantastic day for a hike. One of the thousands of visitors […]

Mabel Meets a Black Bear teaches kids to be BearWise

Mabel Meets a Black Bear book cover and interior pages

As days lengthen and temperatures rise, black bears begin to move around in the woods searching for insects, nuts, and berries. They also look for food in the gateway communities outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In sync with bears’ emergence, Great Smoky Mountains Association has just released a new book teaching kids the importance […]

Bears sometimes cross roads to get our garbage

When Asheville’s Appalachian Trail star Jennifer Pharr Davis hit a huge bear with her tiny Prius, people began to pay more attention to the need for wildlife crossings in our area…

Of big views and big bears

I’m a sucker for ‘big’ views. So when Steve Kemp, GSMA’s former creative services director and the namesake for my writing residency, suggested a hike to Andrews Bald, I was psyched—especially because it was yet another trail that would be new to me…

Bodacious bear to help BearWise Taskforce raise funds for education

Wood carver John Beaudet still remembers the first time he saw a bear as a kid camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “I grew up in East Texas, and for my birthday in the summer, I would ask my parents to go to the Smokies,” he said. “We always went to Smokemont Campground for […]

TedX speaker champions Safe Passage project for wildlife

three bears on the side of the highway

When Nikki Robinson walked out onto the stage during the final dress rehearsal for TEDx Asheville last month, the spotlights of the Diana Wortham Theatre shining in her eyes, she thought, “This is what it feels like to be a deer in the headlights.” And then she smiled and relaxed a bit, realizing the irony […]

Save the Date and Save Wildlife

2022 GSMA Calendar

What is it about the humble wall calendar that explains its enduring popularity well into the digital era? I guess in the same way that physical mail now feels more novel than emails, or our printed photos have become more precious than the thousands of files stored on our phones, a wall calendar hanging in […]

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