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 […]

Finding and embracing the magicalness within

Just say, “Yes.” As the 2022 Steve Kemp Writer in Residence, that’s been my philosophy whenever opportunities have been presented for a new experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park…

Serendipity leads to learning about iNaturalist and the Smokies Most Wanted

Three birds orchid

Close friends tell me my middle name should be “Serendipity” given my often-impeccable timing for wondrous happenstance. While I tend to chuckle when they say it, I can’t disagree. As if on cue, of course, such happenstance struck yet again just before a recent late summer foray into the Smokies as part of my role […]

Now accepting applications for 2023 Steve Kemp Writer’s Residency

Great Smoky Mountains Association is now accepting applications for its third annual Steve Kemp Writer’s Residency. Funded by GSMA, the residency is designed to connect writers with the Smokies in meaningful ways and to inspire some of their best work. The program is named for 30-year GSMA veteran Steve Kemp, who retired in 2017 after […]

The only thing you’ll want to buy at the Purchase is more time

Sometimes I’m amazed by how little I know about so much. Luckily for me, however, I’m endlessly curious and open to the possibilities. In my brief time as GSMA’s Steve Kemp Writer-in-Residence, the doors have swung wide open to expand my knowledge and help me understand the national park in previously unexpected ways. Nothing could […]

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…

Smoky Mountain University makes me want to go back to college

Story and photos by Sue Wasserman Ashley Morris had a dream. The Great Smokies-loving biology professor from Greenville, South Carolina-based Furman University was intent on immersing her students in diverse park experiences. She and I met serendipitously, shortly after I began my stint as Great Smoky Mountains Association’s Kemp Writer-in-Residence and just before she was […]

Discovering the intersection of history and nature

Story and photos by Sue Wasserman Being the Steve Kemp Writer-in-Residence, at least for me, is like being a kid in the proverbial candy store. My eyes pop, thinking of all the delicious possibilities. The only challenge, given the brief time frame, is choosing what to focus on. That thought was behind my request to […]

Tis the Season to get grounded

Image by Sue Wasserman By the time we reach the end of the year, I often find myself running out of steam. When I look back over this past year, it’s easy to see why. Thanks to COVID-19 and its sad continued squashing of several work-related projects, I’ve devoted even more time and energy this […]

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