Fly specialists converge to name hundreds of Smokies specimens

After baffling the specialists for its stubborn nonconformity to ID keys, this fly was identified as Lepidodexia hirculus, a species previously reported only in Texas, with help from the worldwide community of fly specialists. Photo provided by Will Kuhn/DLiA.

Two decades ago, thousands of flies, bugs, and beetles met their end in insect traps set up at 11 sites around Great Smoky Mountains National Park, part of a still-young effort to catalogue every species found within the park’s 800 square miles. From there, the insects were taken to the park’s Twin Creeks Science and […]

‘Gradient of spring’ offers opportunity for exploration

Wild blue phlox (pictured), fire pink, purple wakerobin and yellow trillium are among the many colorful flowers in bloom throughout Great Smoky Mountains National Park in mid-to-late April. Eco-Adventurers can expect to see these and many more wildflowers along the trail on the April 21-23 excursions. Photo provided by Ralph Daily.

By the third week of April, spring is in full bloom throughout the picturesque valleys of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In these lower elevations, trails burst with color—blue phlox, yellow trillium, fire pink, purple wakerobin—vibrant and vivid, like a palette of paints beneath a canopy canvas of white dogwood. Overhead, birds chirp and sing […]

DNA barcoding confirms firefly species in the park

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.

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 National Park? Some scientists working […]

A glamping Eco-Adventure for Smokies biodiversity

As the weather warms in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the fragrant aroma of spring wildflowers fills the air. Northern cardinals sing in short bursts from the canopy, and robins flutter through the underbrush, calling out in search of a mate. Among the blooms, the distinct drone of insects joins the chorus as pollinators buzz […]

Scientists discover new salamander species hiding in plain sight

Until recently, it was thought that 30 species of salamander live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But a recent article in Bionomia, the international journal devoted to biological naming, announced that what was believed to be one species of salamander has been found to actually consist of at least four distinct species, two of […]

Scientist uncovers secret life of soil

Some connections in the vast web of life are little easier to see than others. In the Smokies this time of year, black bears lumber up the swaying branches of native cherry trees to feast on dark, sun-ripened fruit. Wood thrushes swoop down from their perches to snatch fat caterpillars and worms from the forest […]

Partners cooperate to meet the needs of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

By Valerie Polk Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserves more than 500,000 acres of treasured mountain landscape and roughly 2,900 miles of rivers and streams, all habitat for thousands of species of plants, animals, fungi, and more. In the midst of this impressive biodiversity are nearly 850 miles of trails and numerous iconic landmarks that […]

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