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 intracacies of the forest floor to learning about the resourceful people who made a living from this wilderness.

 

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Visitors touring historic structure in park
Surfaces around historic structures are often hard-packed allowing accessibility.

Sugarlands Visitor Center

Designated accessible parking spaces are available at Sugarlands Visitor Center and the restrooms are accessible. The visitor center is open year-round, except on Christmas Day, and is fully accessible. The information desk, book sales area, and exhibits are all on one level.

The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, located on Newfound Gap Road, just south of Sugarlands Visitor Center, is an accessible trail made possible through a public-private partnership. The trail winds through second growth forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River and offers a quiet woodland experience with rock walls. Look for the tracks of a black bear that wandered across the freshly poured concrete when the trail was built!

 

Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Mountain Farm Museum, and Mingus Mill

Designated accessible parking spaces are available at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the restrooms are accessible. The visitor center is open year-round, except on 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 visitor center is open year-round, except on Christmas Day. Cable Mill is open seasonally. Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the sidewalk to the restrooms. A ramp provides access to the visitor center where information, exhibits, and books are available. Restrooms and water fountains outside the visitor center 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. Most of 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 John Oliver Cabin has two approach trails, one paved path and one dirt path. Opened in September 2021, the paved, asphalt path is 0.3 miles (0.4 km) long, well-graded, and barrier-free.

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

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. Cades Cove and Smokemont have accessible sites year-round, while Elkmont's accessible sites are seasonal. Accessible sites are generally level and located adjacent to accessible restrooms. The campsites have been modified with paving, specialized tables, and fire grills. For reservations, call 1-877-444-6777 or visit recreation.gov.

Horse Camp - Big Creek Horse Camp has an accessible campsite and restrooms that are open seasonally. Reservations are required by calling 1-877-444-6777 or visiting recreation.gov.

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

 
Access Pass

America the Beautiful Access Pass

Available for US citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship.

How to Get Your Access Pass

  • In person: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont Campground Kiosks, June through September.
  • Online: Order this free pass from the USGS Store.
  • Mail: Acquire an Access Pass using an application form (558KB PDF) that can be exchanged through mail. The cost of obtaining an Access Pass through the mail is $10 for processing the application (the pass is free).
 

Additional Information

  • Find detailed information about this pass on the USGS Store's Access Pass webpage.
  • Find Frequently Asked Questions about this and other interagency passes on the USGS Store's website.
  • The Access Pass may provide a 50 percent discount on some amenity fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and specialized interpretive services.
  • The Access Pass generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessioners.
  • Golden Access Passports are no longer sold. However, these passes will continue to be honored according to the provisions of the pass.

Last updated: September 27, 2022

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Gatlinburg , TN 37738

Phone:

(865)436-1200

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