Sugarlands Visitor Center#3 in Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
According to recent travelers, the Sugarlands Visitor Center should be your first stop in the park. The visitor center features extensive natural history exhibits and screens a free 20-minute film about the park. The center also houses a bookstore, a gift shop, restrooms and a variety of information including trail maps. There are also several ranger-led programs offered seasonally.
Recent visitors recommended picking up both driving and trail maps here, and many commented on the excellent displays in the wildlife exhibit. Most travelers appreciated the helpful staff and the gift shop, as well as the clean restrooms. However, some lamented the limited parking during peak seasons.
Sugarlands Visitor Center, located 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on U.S. Route 441, is open daily (except Christmas Day). Hours vary seasonally, but it generally welcomes travelers from 8 a.m. to as late as 7:30 p.m. Check the park's website for trail and road closures or call the hotline for road and weather information.
More Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
#1 Roaring Fork Motor Trail
The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a nearly 6-mile-long, one-way loop road, offers spectacular mountain scenery and access to two of the region's most popular waterfalls: Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. You can actually walk behind the 25-foot high falls at the Grotto via the Trillium Gap Trail. You'll also see historic log cabins and the remains of a mountain village, the Roaring Fork Cemetery and an array of wildlife from birds and deer to black bears.
Recent visitors who raved about the beautiful waterfalls and mountain scenery on this motor trail said this is a must-see and a great place to spot bears in the wild. However, some summer tourists bemoaned the fact that the trail was crowded and offered limited parking areas. To avoid the midday rush of visitors, plan your drive in the morning to beat the crowds.
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