Great Smoky Mountains National Park guide

information about cades cove, clingmans dome, smoky mountains, becky cable house

The most visited national park in the United States is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park located in Western Tennessee and eastern North Carolina. The park features four visitors’ centers and visitors should really try to visit all four as they are truly unique. In 2010 the park saw a near record 9,463,538 visitors. The Cades Cove Visitors Center is open year around except Christmas day. There visitors will enjoy seeing a grist mill along with its owners house, the Becky Cable house, which was the first framed house in the area. Visitors can see the gist mill in operation milling corn from early Spring through late Fall. This is one of the best places to see the park’s abundant wildlife including deer, black bears, raccoons, turkeys and woodchucks along with the parks 240 species of birds. The very best day to view the birds is on International Migratory Bird Day held the first Saturday of May each year. The Smoky Mountain park is home to the almost extinct Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

The second visitors center is Oconaluftee Visitor Center which is located next to the Smoky Mountain Farm Museum that has various buildings from around the area including house, barn, applehouse, springhouse, and smokehouse and was moved to this site in the 1950s. The Oconaluflee Visitor Center in the Great Smokey Mountains is open year around except on Christmas Day. This is a great place to start a hike, a popular activity at the park, as two walking trails start in this vicinity both of which are 1.5 miles long. Nearly 200,000 visitors hike in the Great Smoky Mountains each year. Popular destinations include the many waterfalls that are located in the park. On the hike visitors may encounter many of the thirty different species of salamanders that live there. This is the most diverse salamander population anywhere in the world.

A third visitor’s center is the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This center features a film about the park and many natural history exhibits. The Smoky Mountains have five different life zones, more than any other places in the United States for its size. The last visitor’s center at the Great Smoky Mountains is the Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station and is open only from April to November. It is the highest visitors’ center in the park at 6300 feet. It is also the least developed of the visitors centers.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Ranger

rangers work in the national park to help educate the public and preserve the wilderness

Smoky Mountains National Park RangerCredit:

Clingmans Dome - great place to visit

Photo of Clingmans Dome Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Photo of Clingmans Dome Great Smoky Mountains National ParkCredit: