• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

Accessibility

Visitors touring historic structure in park

Surfaces around historic structures are often hard-packed allowing accessibility.

Much of the Smokies can be enjoyed from your vehicle and from accessible facilities and programs offered in the park. Activities range from viewing scenery to exploring the intricacies of the forest floor to learning about the resourceful people who made a living from this wilderness.
 
Sugarlands Visitor Center
Designated accessible parking spaces are available at Sugarlands Visitor Center. Restrooms are accessible, as is the outside water fountain near the east parking lot. The visitor center is open year-round, except Christmas day, and is fully accessible. The information desk, book sales area, exhibits, and audiovisual room are all on one level. Ranger-led programs held in the visitor center are accessible. For hearing-impaired visitors, the park movie is captioned.

 
Oconaluftee Visitor Center, the Mountain Farm Museum, and Mingus Mill
Designated accessible parking spaces are available at the visitor center. Restrooms are accessible. The visitor center is open year-round, except Christmas day, and is accessible. Exhibits, information desk, and book sales area are all on one level.

The paths through the nearby Mountain Farm Museum are hard-packed gravel and wheelchair-accessible with assistance. A guide booklet about the historic structures is available for a small fee. Most of the buildings can be viewed from the outside via doorways, and a ramp provides access to the house. Most talks and demonstrations are accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.

Mingus Mill, one-half mile north of the visitor center, is open seasonally. Accessible restrooms are adjacent to the parking area. A paved and packed-gravel trail of about 100 yards makes the mill accessible with assistance. A single step allows access to the interior ground floor of the mill. A guide leaflet and loose leaf binder containing photographs of the interior of the mill are available. Millers are available to explain the milling process and answer questions.

 
Cades Cove
Designated accessible parking spaces are available in the campground/picnic area parking lot across from the ranger station. The Cades Cove Campground Store and adjacent restrooms are accessible.

The Cades Cove Auto Tour booklet, available for a small fee in the Cable Mill area and at the start of the 11-mile loop road, provides a description of this historic area. The historic buildings along the loop road are not accessible due to steps, lack of hard-surfaced walkways, and distance. However, many of the exteriors can be viewed from your vehicle.

The visitor center is open daily except Christmas. Cable Mill is open seasonally. Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the sidewalk to the restrooms. There is ramp access to the visitor center where information, exhibits, and books are available. Restrooms and water fountains outside the visitor center are accessible.

The trail through the complex of historic buildings is level and surfaced with hard-packed gravel. Most of the buildings can be viewed from the outside doorways. The Becky Cable House is accessible via a ramp. The interior of the Cable mill is accessible when open. Seasonal guided tours are accessible with the exceptions noted above.

 

Parkwide Facilities

Temporary Parking Permit - If you have a physical disability (including a temporary disability), or have in your company someone who needs accessible parking, you may get a temporary parking permit at Sugarlands or Oconaluftee visitor centers. This allows you to park in designated accessible parking spaces. Permits are available only when the person with the disability is present.

Amphitheaters - The most accessible amphitheater is at Cades Cove. It is level, and adjacent restrooms are accessible. The amphitheaters at Elkmont and Smokemont have paved trails, but they are steep and may require assistance.

Auto Tours - The park’s backroads offer a chance to escape traffic and explore remote areas. A road guide and self-guided auto tour booklets are available for several popular, and a few quieter destinations in the park including Cades Cove, Newfound Gap Road, Roaring Fork, Tremont, and Cataloochee. All items may be purchased at visitor centers.

Camping - Reservations for an “accessible unit” (wheelchair accessible) can be made for campsites in three campgrounds: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont, from May 15 to October 31. For reservations, call 1-877-444-6777. Accessible sites are generally level and located adjacent to accessible restrooms. The campsites have been modified with paving, specialized tables, and fire grills.

Horse Camp - Big Creek Horse Camp has an accessible campsite and restroom that are open seasonally. Reservations are required by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Horseback Riding Stables - The restrooms at Smokemont and Sugarlands riding stables are accessible.

Telephones - A wheelchair-accessible telephone (no audio amplification) is located at Cades Cove ranger station, and Oconaluftee and Sugarlands visitor centers.

Trails - Most trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are steep and rugged. However, an accessible trail made possible through a public-private partnership is located on Newfound Gap Road, just south of Sugarlands Visitor Center. Accessible interpretive exhibits located along the one-half mile paved trail describe the unique historic and natural features as the trail winds through second growth forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Clay tactile exhibits, a large print brochure, and porcelain enamel wayside exhibits are available on site. Look for the tracks of a black bear that wandered across the freshly poured concrete when the trail was built! An audio tape tour is available from Sugarlands Visitor Center.

 
Access Passport
If you are a U.S. citizen and have a permanent disability, you may obtain a free Access Passport at Sugarlands or Oconaluftee visitor centers. The passport allows free admission to federal areas which charge entrance fees and provides reductions for other types of user fees.

Did You Know?

Great Horned Owls can be heard most often in January and February

More than 240 species of birds have been found in the park. Sixty species are year-round residents. Nearly 120 species breed in the park, including 52 species from the neo-tropics. Many other species use the park as an important stopover and foraging area during their semiannual migration. More...