There are three main visitor centers in the park: Oconaluftee near Cherokee, Sugarlands near Gatlinburg, and Cades Cove. In addition, there is a visitor contact station at Clingmans Dome, plus four information centers outside the park (in Sevierville and Townsend and two in Gatlinburg).
Cades Cove Visitor Center. This visitor center is located about midway on the highly popular 11-mi Cades Cove Loop on the Tennessee side. What makes this one especially worth visiting is the Cable Mill, which operates spring through fall, and the Becky Cable House, a pioneer home with farm outbuildings. Cades Cove Loop, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC. 865/436–1200 park information line. www.nps.gov/grsm. Dec. and Jan., daily 9–4:30; Feb. and Nov., daily 9–5; Mar., Sept., and Oct., daily 9–6; Apr.–Aug., daily 9–7.
Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station. While not a full-fledged visitor information center, Clingmans Dome has a staffed information kiosk, along wth a small park store and bookshop, on the Clingmans Dome trailhead. There are restrooms in the Clingsmans Dome parking lot. Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC. 865/436-1200 park information line. www.nps.gov/grsm. Apr.–Oct., daily 10–6; Nov., daily 9:30–5. Closed Dec.–Mar.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The park's only information center on the North Carolina side is 1½ mi from Cherokee and offers interactive displays, a book and gift shop, ranger-led programs, and assistance from helpful park rangers and volunteers. There are restrooms and vending machines. Adjoining the visitor center, in a large level field next to the Oconaluftee River, is the Mountain Farm Museum. US Hwy. 441, 1 1/2 miles from Cherokee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC, 28719. 865/436–1200 park information line. www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm. Jan.-Feb., daily 8–4:30; March and Nov., daily 8–5; Apr.-May and Sep.-Oct., daily 8–6; June–Aug., daily 8–7.
Sugarlands Visitor Center. The main visitor center on the Tennessee side, Sugarlands features extensive exhibits in a nature museum about park flora and fauna, as well as a 20-minute film about the park. Ranger-led programs are held here from spring to fall. U.S. Hwy. 441, 2 mi south of Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC, 37738. 865/436–1200 park visitor information line. www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm. Jan.-Feb., daily 8–4:30; Mar. and Nov., daily 8–5; Apr., May, Sept., and Oct., daily 8–6; June–Aug., daily 8–7.