A Cades Cove moonshine saga: Part one—The mysterious murder of George Powell Jr.

George Powell Jr. and wife Martha Greg Powell of Chestnut Flats in Cades Cove, Tennessee. Provided by France Rogers via Find a Grave.

Editor’s note: This is the first of two articles revisiting a notorious murder in the community known as Chestnut Flats in Cades Cove and the dangerous but lucrative enterprise of distilling illegal spirits in the Great Smoky Mountains prior to the creation of the national park. Late afternoon, December 11, 1897, George Washington Powell Jr. […]

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 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 […]

Camera in the park: Cades Cove in winter

When temperatures start to dip in the Great Smoky Mountains, so does park visitation, making winter a great time to get out and enjoy the scenery of some of the most popular destinations in the Smokies free of the congestion and traffic more common in other parts of the year. Although some roads in the […]

Trailside Talk: Christmas in the Smokies

Every December, Kermit Caughron left his home in Cades Cove to travel to Knoxville, Tennessee. There, among other things, he bought a bushel of red delicious apples, a bundle of oranges, a box of bananas, and several bags of candy, including orange slices and chocolate crème drops…

Camera in the Park: Goldenrod season in Cades Cove

From about mid-August to the first Smokies frost, bright yellow clusters of goldenrods add intense patches of color to a mostly green landscape.  A quick Wikipedia search turns up interesting facts about the flower, including that it is the state flower of Kentucky, Nebraska, and South Carolina—and previously Alabama before being replaced by the camelia. […]

Trailside Talk: The perfect Smokies day

Get ready, Cades Cove! On the alert, Laurel Falls! Look out, Alum Cave! Sugarlands, here they come!  Over the next several months, the Great Smokies face the year’s biggest season of visitation as schools dismiss students for the summer and hundreds of thousands of workers target mountain trips for their annual vacations. From one-day picnics […]

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