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Where is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and What Is There For Me To
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located on the Tennessee and North Carolina border in the U.S.
The park offers a large variety of plant and animal life, mountain scenery and views and the history of the
Southern Appalachian people. It is the most visited national park in America.
Guests that have disabilities or limited abilities can find a lot to do at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Facilities, programs, picnicking, trails and auto touring are all available for people with limited abilities.
Some of the areas that you can see are Sugarlands Visitor Center, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, the Mountain
Farm Museum, Mingus Mill, Cades Cove, campgrounds and more. Five auto tours are offered by the park. On
our trips to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we have often seen bear, deer, raccoons, a variety of birds
and more from a driving trail.
If you have a physical or temporary disability or have someone that needs accessible parking, the park offers
temporary parking permits at the Sugarlands and Oconaluftee Visitor Center. With this permit, you can park in
the parking spaces designated handicapped or accessible. The person with the disability must be present to get
Great Smoky Mountains National Park warns that facilities described as accessible do not necessarily comply fully
with federal standards and some accessible facilities are not marked with the international symbol. Many of the
facilities are over a century old and so accessibility is not ideal.
What Wheelchair Accessible Lodging and Accommodations are there in the Great Smoky Mountain
There are wheelchair accessible accommodations available throughout the park. For information on this call
1-866-439-7375 and request appropriate lodging.
Wheelchair accessible campsites can be found at Cades Cove campground, Elkmont campground and
Smokemont campground. Reservations can be made for dates from May 15 to October 31 at 1-877-444-6777.
Accessible site are usually level and located near accessible restrooms. They have been modified by paving,
special tables and fire grills.
What Accessible Activities Can I Do At Great Smoky Mountains
Sugarlands Visitor Center: This Visitors Center has accessible parking spaces, rest
rooms and water fountain. The rest rooms and water fountain are near the east parking lot.
The Visitors Center is fully accessible with the information desk, bookstore, exhibits and
audiovisual room all on one level.
The Ranger-led programs that are held in the Visitors Center are also accessible. If a
person walks but can do so for short periods of time, they may want to check with the
Ranger on how much walking a program contains.
The Gatlinburg Hiking Trail, an accessible trail, is located near the Visitors Center.
A wheelchair is available for the use of the guests while at Sugarlands Visitor Center. For
the hearing-impaired, the park movie that is shown at the Visitor Center is captioned.
The Sugarlands Visitors Center is open all year except for Christmas day.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center: Accessible park spaces with ramps are offered, as are restrooms. Restrooms are
located at the back of the building. Vehicles can be parked for a short time at the back of the building for close
access or a sidewalk can be used that provides wheelchair access. The doorways are ramped. Some of the
walkways to and inside the building are made of flagstones, which can be uneven.
On the inside of the building, the exhibits, information desk and bookstore are all on one level.
Oconaluftee River Trail is located near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. It is an accessible trail.
The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day.
The Mountain Farm Museum: This area is located right beside the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The trails
that go through the Mountain Farm Museum area are rather level, hard-packed gravel. They are
considered wheelchair-accessible with assistance. A person walking with a cane may need someone steady
beside them. Most of the buildings can be viewed from the outside. A ramp gives access to the house.
Talks and demonstrations are periodically held here and most are accessible to wheelchairs.
A guide booklet about the historical structures is available at Visitors Centers for a small fee.
This Mountain Farm Museum offers visitors a look at a house, barn, working blacksmith shop, apple house,
spring house and smokehouse. Historic gardening, agricultural practices and livestock are demonstrated.
Oconaluftee River Trail is rated easy and is a 1.5-mile trail that begins by the museum and follows the river.
It is stroller-accessible.
Mingus Mill: This area is one-half mile north of Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The Mill is open in season. The
Visitor Center will have information on when it is open. This area has accessible restrooms. The trail to the mill is
a hard packed trail and is about 100 yards. It is considered accessible with assistance. One step is at the door to
the ground floor of the mill.
When open, millers are available and explain the milling process. Leaflet guides on the interior of the mill are
Amphitheaters: The most accessible one is at Cades Cove as it is level and has accessible restrooms. Two
other amphitheaters are paved, Elmont and Smokemont, but they are steep and assistance may be required.
Horseback Riding Stables: The stables in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are equipped to handle
high functioning disabled people. Hay rides and carriage rides are offered at Cades Cove Riding Stables. There
are restrooms at Smokemont and Sugarlands riding stables that are accessible.
Horse Camp: Big Creek Horse Camp has one accessible campsite and restroom that is open in-season.
Reservations can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777.
Picnic Areas: The following picnic area have designated accessible picnic areas. They are usually close to
restrooms and may have an accessible drinking fountain. They are: Big Creek, Cades Cove, Chimneys, Collins
Creek, Crosby and Metcalf Bottoms.
How Can I Save Money At America's National Parks?
Many of the national parks charge a fee for entering the park. If a person is a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident
of the United States and have been medically determined to have a permanent disability they can qualify for an
The Access Pass is a free, lifetime pass that allows free entrance into the national parks, the forest service, the
fish and wildlife service, the bureau of land management and the bureau of reclamation. Discounts may also be
offered for individual campsites, campsites with utility hookups, group campsites and facilities, guided tours,
transportation systems, concessionaire fees and special use permit fees.