4 Reasons to Stop by Sugarlands Visitor Center When You Visit the National Park

GSMNP entrance sign

One of the awesome benefits of staying at Chalet Village is that you are only minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park! If you are wondering what to see and do while visiting the park, there is no better place to begin your adventure than at the Sugarlands Visitor Center! This convenient facility has everything you need to plan a wonderful day in the mountains! Here are the top 4 reasons to stop by Sugarlands Visitor Center when you visit the national park:

1. Fantastic Introduction to the Park

The Sugarlands Visitor Center provides a fantastic introduction to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with maps, natural history exhibits and a free 20-minute film about the park. There is also a bookstore where you can pick up all types of literature, including books about the park’s historical background, wildlife, hiking trails and more! This is a perfect opportunity to talk to a ranger about any specific hiking recommendations! Be sure to ask about if there are any current ranger-led programs taking place in the park.

2. Excellent FacilitiesSugarlands-Visitor-Center

Another reason to start your exploration of the national park at Sugarlands Visitor Center is because it contains excellent facilities to use before hiking. The Visitor Center has public restrooms as well as vending machines where you can stock up on bottled water. The facility is open daily except for Christmas Day. Moreover, it’s the only visitor center within the national park that is open throughout the year. Although it opens each morning at 8 a.m., the closing times vary so be sure to check the official hours when planning your visit.

3. Close to Downtown Gatlinburg

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is the closest official visitor’s center to Gatlinburg. Plus, it is just a short drive from Chalet Village! To access the Sugarlands Visitor Center from Chalet Village, take Ski Mountain Road to downtown Gatlinburg and turn right on the Parkway. After just 1.7 miles, you will see the visitor center ahead on the right side of the road where there is plenty of free parking available. As an alternative to driving, you can walk to the Visitor Center from downtown Gatlinburg along the Gatlinburg Trail! This is one of only two walking trails within the national park where you can walk dogs and ride bicycles. The trail starts at River Road in Gatlinburg and travels for 1.9 miles through the forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.

cataract Falls4. Convenient Hiking Options

There are some convenient hiking options located right at the Sugarlands Visitor Center! The Cataract Falls Trail is an easy hike for families with young children and is less than one mile round trip. The well marked trail starts at the visitor center. The trail features a canopy of trees, streams and more before reaching a beautiful 25 foot waterfall! The Fighting Creek Nature Trail is a 1.2 mile loop trail that is perfect for hikers of all ages. The hike features a gentle climb that follows along Fighting Creek and features two historical properties, the Noah McCarter cabin and the John Ownby Cabin. After passing these historic buildings, you continue to loop back to the visitor center.

Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg, then plan your vacation at our cabins near the Sugarlands Visitor Center! We hope to see you soon at Chalet Village!