Top 4 Reasons to Start Your National Park Visit at the Sugarlands Visitor Center

If you are planning to hike or drive through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during your vacation, the best place to start your visit is at the Sugarlands Visitor Center! This convenient facility is open daily except for Christmas and features loads of helpful information about the park, public restrooms, vending machines, and much more. Here are the top 4 reasons to start your national park visit at the Sugarlands Visitor Center:

1. Near Downtown Gatlinburg

downtown GatlinburgOne of the top reasons to start your national park visit at the Sugarlands Visitor Center is it’s just minutes from downtown Gatlinburg and us! The facility is located just 2 miles south of River Road in Gatlinburg, making it a convenient first stop in the park! After a delicious breakfast in your cabin or at a pancake house in downtown Gatlinburg, you can start your day at the Sugarlands Visitor Center by obtaining park maps, talking to a park ranger about hiking options, and stocking up on bottled water.

2. Free Exhibits

The Sugarlands Visitor Center features free exhibits about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including a fascinating 20-minute film! This is the perfect way to learn more about the park before you experience some of the scenic hikes and drives for yourself! There are also some interesting natural history exhibits for you to explore, so feel free to browse the exhibits at your own pace. If you have any specific questions about the park, a park ranger would be delighted to offer assistance!

3. Fighting Creek Nature Trail

little pigeon riverAnother great reason to start your national park visit at the Sugarlands Visitor Center is because the facility also serves as the starting point for the Fighting Creek Nature Trail. This pleasant trail is an easy 1.2-mile trail for all ages and provides a great introduction to the Great Smoky Mountains. The trail travels into the depths of the forest and features beautiful scenery, including Fighting Creek, which is an important tributary of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The Fighting Creek Nature Trail is also home to the John Ownby Cabin that dates back to about 1860 and has been restored by the National Park Service.

4. Gatlinburg Trail

If you prefer to walk to Sugarlands Visitor Center, you can actually hike from Gatlinburg along the Gatlinburg Trail! This walking path travels for 1.9 miles between the Sugarlands Visitor Center and the outskirts of Gatlinburg, with a trailhead on River Road. If you are staying in one of our pet friendly cabins, you will be happy to know that the Gatlinburg Trail is one of just two trails within the national park where you can walk dogs. The trail is relatively flat and runs through the forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. As you walk along, you will also notice the foundations and chimneys of several old homesites!

Going to the visitor center before you do anything else will help prepare you for your day in the Smokies. Check out all of our cabins in Gatlinburg TN today to plan your vacation near the Sugarlands Visitor Center! We look forward to seeing you soon!