Oconaluftee Visitor Center

Located on US 441 two miles north of Cherokee at the Park entrance, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center is the Park's main welcome and information center for the North Carolina side. The center is staffed daily (except Christmas) by knowledgeable, helpful park rangers and volunteers.

A museum recounts the history of life in the Smokies from native Americans and early European settlement time periods through the creation of the National Park.

Also in the visitor center, you'll find maps, mechandise and helpful publications in the Great Smoky Mountains Association's bookstore and shop.

You might spot some elk in the fields at the visitor center. Mid-late afternoons are the best times.


Open daily except Christmas. Hours vary by season

River Trail

The easy, 1.5 mile (one-way) Oconaluftee River Trail begins near the rear of the visitor center. It is stroller-accessible, bike and pet-friendly and follows the river to Cherokee, N.C.

Nearby Attractions

Two other popular Park attractions are nearby —

Mountain Farm Museum

Mingus Mill

Educational Programs in the National Park

Oconaluftee Visitor Center The National Park has some great educational and fun programs, from spring through fall. Some are part of the Junior Ranger program, but many are for the whole family.

In summer there are daily programs for Junior Rangers, historic tours, night hikes, river rambles, guided waterfall hikes, wagon rides, storytelling and more.