From black bears to salamanders. Old-growth forests to spring wildflowers. Log cabins to grist mills. The park offers a myriad of opportunities for exploring and discovering both the natural and cultural history of these ancient mountains.
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Operating Hours and Seasons
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Some areas of the park may be closed temporarily due to construction, weather, etc. For updated information about closures, contact the national park information line at (865) 436-1200.
Entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is FREE. The park is one of the only major national parks that does not charge an entrance fee.
In 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially dedicated the park from this majestic site. The road, completed in 1932, straddles Tennessee and North Carolina here. Originally, Indian Gap, a point two miles west, was thought to be the lowest gap in the mountains, but Newfound Gap was discovered to be lower in elevation, thus the name.
Clingman’s Dome is the Smokies’ highest peak and the third highest point east of the Mississippi. Named for a colorful Civil War general, Clingman’s Dome rears its head 6,642 feet. The observation tower, located seven miles off Newfound Gap Road, looks out on an ever-changing view. Occasionally the peak is above cloud level, creating a surrealistic scene of mountaintops floating in an ocean of white.
Beginning and ending within miles of downtown Gatlinburg, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a one-way drive that takes visitors along a 5.5 mile experience through the National Park. To access Roaring Fork, turn off the main parkway in Gatlinburg, TN at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail Road to the Cherokee Orchard entrance to the national park. Just beyond the Rainbow Falls trailhead you have the option of taking the one-way Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (closed in winter).
The Great Smoky Mountains is home to one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. With over 2,115 miles of streams in its boundaries, the park offers a variety of angling experiences from remote, headwater trout streams to large, coolwater smallmouth bass streams. For a map of all park water as well as other information, stop by a visitor center and pick up your free copy. The volunteers in either center will be happy to point out ideal streams to fit your interests!
As you explore the Great Smoky Mountains, you'll have a particularly rich experience when you pay attention to the natural community around you. The vast deciduous and coniferous forests of these mountains are an amazing site. Trees, birds, mammals, and wildflowers combine each season to provide spectacular scenery. There are 850 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons in the Great Smoky Mountains. The brilliant colors of Autumn transform the Smokies into a truly amazing sight to see. Area's you may want to visit while vacationing with us are; Cades Cove, Newfound Gap, Clingman's Dome, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. For a quick peek of the Fall colors in Gatlinburg, we recommend the Gatlinburg By-Pass, located between downtown and Pigeon Forge.
Great Smoky Mountain Visitor's Centers
Begin your exploration of the park at a visitor center. Here you can pick up a park map or newspaper, have your questions answered by a ranger, and purchase books and guides to the park.
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