We love the Smoky Mountains. Wish you were here!

New GSMNP Visitor Center Celebrates Mountain Heritage

The National Park’s new 6,300-square-foot Oconaluftee facility is much more than a mere Visitor Center. Its centerpiece is an impressive museum dedicated to the Smokies’ cultural heritage, beginning with the Early People — the Cherokees. It follows the influx of European settlers in the late 1700s and documents many facets of their often hardscrabble life in the mountains — including ‘moonshining’.

The museum complements the Park’s other museum at Sugarlands Visitor Center, just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which highlights the natural resources and biodiversity of the park.

Located two miles north of Cherokee, NC at the park entrance, the new facility includes a much larger and more convenient comfort station. The spacious bookstore is run by the Great Smoky Mountains Association. The old Visitor Center, built in 1941, will now house office space for park staff and meeting space for park functions.

No tax dollars were used for this Visitor Center. The Great Smoky Mountains Association provided over three million dollars to finance the construction of the buildings. Friends of the Smokies spent more than $500,000 for the information and cultural resource exhibits.

The Visitor Center opens at 8:00 am every day except Christmas. Closing times vary with the season — from 4:30 pm in mid-winter to 7:00 pm in mid-summer. For more visitor information, visit the GSMNP website.

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