From Georgia to Maine, the long walk begins

With winter finally in the rearview, most people attempting a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail this year have already started their trek at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia—and many have already made it to or through the 71.6 miles that fall within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So far in 2024, the park […]

Sisters of the Woods

The “Sisters of the Woods”— (from left) Phyllis Woollen , Jana Plemmons, Katie Ray and Judy Dykes—celebrate completing the 100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and Carolina Blue Ridge map at Moore Cove Falls near Brevard, North Carolina. Photo provided by Anne Glover.

You get to know a lot about a person if you hike 672 miles with them, especially when you climb almost 30 miles in elevation while doing it. From the Great Smoky Mountains, that’s more than enough miles to get you to Chicago or Philadelphia. It’s also ample distance to reach Little Rock, Arkansas; St. […]

‘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 […]

Dreaming of a snowy trailhead

winter hiking in the Smokies

I love snowy days in the woods! Wow, did I really just say that? There was a time when cold temperatures made me want to burrow into the blankets with a good book and a cup of cocoa refusing to emerge. But about 15 years ago, I started spending more time outside running and hiking […]

Fall glamping eco-adventure supports biodiversity nonprofit

Photo of hikers in Great Smoky Mountains in the fall.

As the lush green hues of summer fade, yielding to the crisp crimson colors of autumn, the Great Smoky Mountains undergo a breathtaking transformation. Under the canopy, golden sunlight filters through a kaleidoscope of leaves, casting a warm, ethereal glow on the landscape. Small animals ‘shuffle-crunch-snap’ through the leaf litter, gathering fallen nuts and overripe […]

“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 […]

Carolina Mountain Club celebrates 100 years

N.C. Arboretum volunteer Tim Southard explains the difference between white and red oak leaves to his group of hikers. Photo courtesy of David Huff Creative.

As temperatures neared 90 degrees on the sunny afternoon of Sunday, July 16, the forested Carolina Mountain Trail offered a shady respite for the 20 people joining Tom Southard for a 2.1-mile hike through the woods of the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. Southard, a volunteer with 13 years of experience leading walks at the […]

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 […]

How to conquer a winter hike

Winter Mountains photo by Ann Froschauer

Winter hiking can be intimidating, but don’t let the cold stop you. There’s nothing like the peace and solitude of the Smoky Mountains in the quiet season. With some careful route planning and a little judicious flexibility, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying that sense of accomplishment that comes with getting out in […]

Hike offers reminder to explore at own pace

As much as I love seeing rainbows, I hadn’t intended to hike to Rainbow Falls, where, according to Waterfalls of the Smokies, the afternoon sun can create a wondrous rainbow effect. For some reason, I’d gotten it into my head that the trail would be more strenuous than this 2022 Steve Kemp Writer in Residence […]

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