Smoky Mountains


The Comprehensive Guide to the Smoky Mountain National Park and surrounding areas.

History of the Smokies

What to See in the Smokies

Festivals and Events

Additional Great Smoky Mountain Resources and Products

Local Attractions

Dollywood

Shopping

Local Shows

Activities

Hiking

Bicycling

Camping

Fishing

Tubing

Kayaking

White Water Rafting

Horseback Riding

Snow Skiing

Touring in the Smokies

Tail of the Dragon

US 441 (Newfound Gap Road)

Gateways of the Smokies

Gatlinburg  Tennessee

Townsend Tennessee

Cherokee North Carolina

Surrounding Areas

Pigeon Forge Tennessee

Maggie Valley

Accomodations and Travel

Cabins in the Smokies

Hotels in the Smokies

Meeting Space and Conventions in the Smokies

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Parkthat straddles the ridge line of the Great Smoky Mountains,part of the Blue Ridge Mountains which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North Carolina runs northeast to southwest through the centerline of the park. It is the most visited national park in theUnited States.On its route from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail also passes through the center of the park. The park was chartered by the United States Congress in 1934 and officially dedicated by PresidentFranklin Delano Roosevelt in 1940. It encompasses 814 square miles (2,108 km²), making it one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States. The main park entrances are located along U.S. Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road) at the towns of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina.

 

  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a major tourist attraction in the region; over 9 million tourists and 11 million non-recreational visitors traveled to the park were recorded in 2003, double that of any other national park. Surrounding towns, notably Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Townsend, Tennessee, and Cherokee, Sylva, Maggie Valley, and Bryson City, North Carolina receive a significant portion of their income from tourism associated with the park.

The two main visitors' centers inside the park are Sugarlands Visitors' Center near the Gatlinburg entrance to the park and Oconaluftee Visitors' Center near Cherokee, North Carolina at the eastern entrance to the park. These ranger stations provide exhibits on wildlife, geology, and the history of the park. They also sell books, maps, and souvenirs.

U.S. Highway 441 (known in the park as Newfound Gap Road) bisects the park, providing automobile access to many trailheads and overlooks, most notably that of Newfound Gap. At an elevation of 5,048 feet (1,539 m), it is the lowest gap in the mountains and is situated near the center of the park, on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, halfway between the border towns of Gatlinburg and Cherokee. It was here that in 1940, from the Rockefeller Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the national park. On clear days Newfound Gap offers arguably the most spectacular scenes accessible via highway in the park.

The park has a number of historical attractions. The most well-preserved of these (and most popular) is Cades Cove, a valley with a number of preserved historic buildings including log cabins, barns, and churches. Cades Cove is the single most frequented destination in the national park. Self-guided automobile and bicycle tours offer the many sightseers a glimpse into the way of life of old-time southern Appalachia. Other historical areas within the park include Roaring Fork, Cataloochee, Elkmont, and the Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill at Oconaluftee.

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