The official Great Smoky Mountains National Park website (www.nps.gov/grsm) provides a wealth of information on the park. Before you go, download the Smokies Trip Planner at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/trip-planner.htm.
The Great Smoky Mountains Association is a nonprofit group that has been supporting the park since 1953. It runs park stores, and revenue from the stores, plus contributions from members, funded the new visitor center at Oconaluftee and the visitor kiosk at Clingmans Dome, along with many other projects. Its website (www.smokiesinformation.org ) has great photos and lots of information.
Several commercial websites also are useful for trip-planning. Among the best are My Smoky Mountain Vacation (www.mysmokymountainvacation.com), Romantic Asheville (www.romanticasheville.com), and Bryson City and the Great Smokies (www.greatsmokies.com).
Once you arrive at the park, pick up the Smokies Guide, a free tabloid newspaper published once a season with an area map, schedule of free park programs, and information on destinations in the park, birding, wildlife, wildflowers, and hiking. The park visitor centers have shops with large collections of books on every aspect of the park. The Smokies Starter Kit ($5) is a package of booklets, brochures, and maps on the park.