Sugarlands Visitor Center

Sugarlands Visitor Center
Local Expert's Rating:
5.0 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is a great place to stop early in your Smoky Mountain vacation. In addition to the free movie, knowledgable rangers, and exhibits, you will find several easy hikes with a trailhead next to the visitor center.

- The Local Expert Team

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is the perfect spot to begin your Smoky Mountain vacation! The visitor center features knowledgable rangers, maps, restrooms, animal exhibits, informative museum, and a free movie. Stop here to stretch your legs, get your bearings, and speak with experts about your itinerary.

When is the Sugarlands Visitor Center open?

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day. Here are the hours by season for the visitor center:

Sugarlands Visitor CenterHours of Operation

January 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
February 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
March 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
April – August 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
September – October 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
December 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Where is the Sugarlands Visitor Center?

To get to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, proceed through downtown Gatlinburg on the main Parkway. After passing Ski Mountain Road, you will enter the National Park. Sugarlands Visitor Center is 1.7 miles ahead on the right side of the road. There is plenty of free parking near the visitor center.

What is there to do at the Sugarlands Visitor Center?

The Sugarlands Visitor Center features a 21-minute movie about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nature exhibits, hiking (see below), park exhibits, gift shop, restrooms, and plenty of free parking. There’s also benches to take a rest, first aid kits, and food and drinks.

Are there hikes located at/near Sugarlands Visitor Center?

Yes! In addition to the interior exhibits, there are three great hikes all located at Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Cataract Falls –
This easy hike is perfect for families with young children. The hike, which is less than a mile roundtrip, ends at a beautiful 25-foot waterfall. The well marked trail begins at the visitor center and features tree cover (perfect in summer and fall!), streams, bridges, and a beautiful waterfall. If you just arrived at the park, this is the perfect ad-on to a stop at the visitor center.

Fighting Creek Nature Trail –
This 1.2 mile loop trail is perfect for people of all ages! The hike features a gentle climb that follows Fighting Creek and features two historic properties – the Noah McCarter cabin and the John Ownby cabin. After passing the historic buildings, you continue the loop back to the visitor center.

Gatlinburg Trail –
The Gatlinburg Trail, which is a scenic, paved 3.8 mile roundtrip walk, is one of only two trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to allow dogs and bicycles. This trail begins at the visitor center and follows a beautiful river to the outskirts of Gatlinburg. If Rover is tired of being cooped up in the car, this is your best option!