When to Go
The park is open all year, but summer and fall bring the biggest crowds. Weather conditions can affect some park activities and result in road closures.
There are two major airports nearby: McGhee Tyson Airport just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Asheville Regional Airport in Fletcher, North Carolina, 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of the park.
The following routes lead to the park's three entrances:
* Gatlinburg, Tennessee: From Interstate 40 take Exit 407 (Sevierville) to Tennessee Route 66 south. Continue to U.S. 441 south. Follow U.S. 441 to the park.
* Townsend, Tennessee: From Interstate 40 in Knoxville take Exit 386B (U.S. 129 south to Alcoa/Maryville). At Maryville proceed on U.S. 321 north through Townsend. Continue straight on Tennessee Route 73 into the park.
* Cherokee, North Carolina: From Interstate 40 take U.S. Route 19 West through Maggie Valley. Proceed to U.S. 441 North at Cherokee into the park.
From Atlanta, Georgia, and points south: Follow U.S. 441 and 23 north. U.S. 441 leads to the park.
For a scenic route that rambles from the north through mountain meadows, old farmsteads, and wildflowers, drive along the 469-mile (755 kilometers) Blue Ridge Parkway that connects Virginia's Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains. Built during the Depression in the 1930s, the parkway has since been dubbed "America's favorite drive" because of its sweeping valley views and abundant wildlife, including such creatures as groundhogs and salamanders and such plant life as evergreen trees and azaleas. In recent years, the majestic hemlock tree—found along the parkway and in neighboring national parks—has been under increased threat from the hemlock woolly adelgid, a non-native insect. Visitors to the parkway will notice the damage this Asian pest is wreaking on the hemlock population.
For information on road conditions and closures, contact the park at 865-436-1200.