Nightmare on Wolf Ridge

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.

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 helicopter “mercy” mission that went […]

“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 […]

Quill Rose: Making moonshine and telling tales on Eagle Creek

Aquilla “Quill” Rose, who writer George Ellison called a “Civil War veteran, fiddle player, storyteller, moonshiner, and hunter,” is the first of several famous or infamous moonshiners in the Smokies region who will be featured in this column. Dan Pierce in Corn from a Jar: Moonshining in the Great Smoky Mountains (GSMA, 2013), identified Rose […]

70 years of partnership: Trio of leaders reflects on GSMA legacy

Steve Kemp, Kent Cave, and Terry Maddox were colleagues working together in the realms of GSMA and the National Park Service during an important period of growth for the association. The trio gathered in September 2022 to share memories of their experiences as GSMA prepared for its 70th year of service to the National Park Service in 2023. Provided by Great Smoky Mountains Association.

In 2023, GSMA celebrates its 70th year of continuous operations supporting Great Smoky Mountains National Park—a major milestone that has us looking back to chart the evolution of the organization and the work it has accomplished over that time. An interview with the late Terry Maddox along with Steve Kemp and Kent Cave in the fall […]

Inaugural Daisy Town Day shows that Elkmont is not a ghost town

If you’ve been to the Elkmont Historic District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ve probably come across a gathering of vacant buildings—many with wide porches, stone chimneys, and wooden shutters. Some of the buildings are slowly returning to nature, their leftover stonework an enduring declaration that they were once here. But many others are […]

Moonshining in and around the Great Smokies: Part 1—The economics

f a moonshiner could produce just one gallon of his 'mountain dew' each evening, he could employ a farm hand to do his hard work while he could spend his days hunting and fishing.

In the not-too-distant past, moonshiners were common in the Smoky Mountains and throughout the Southern Appalachians. They were mountaineers who made part of their living manufacturing spirits by moonlight in the hidden coves and caves in order to evade taxes levied by the United States government. In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed into law a tax […]

Remote cabin memorializes important Southern artist

Pam Yarnell, an avid hiker and a member of Great Smoky Mountains Association, sent me an email in February of this year asking for my help. She wanted to make sure others were able to learn about a significant artist who had a special connection to Great Smoky Mountains National Park…

Trailside Talk: The quest to find veterans buried in the Smokies

Joe Emert and his friends are on a mission that has no end. Emert is one of the leaders of an effort to identify the final resting places of all military veterans buried in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Using military records, newspaper research, family histories, websites focusing on family ancestry, and a lot of […]

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