great smoky mountains national park

4 Reasons to Stop by the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Your National Park Visit

One of the huge benefits of staying at the Black Bear Inn & Suites is that our hotel is right on the doorstep to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! If you are planning to visit the park for the first time, there is no better place to start your visit than at the Sugarlands Visitor Center! This official visitor center is open daily and has all the information necessary to plan an active and fun-filled day in the park! Here are the top 4 reasons to stop by the Sugarlands Visitor Center:

1. Free Movie and Exhibits

The Sugarlands Visitor Center features free admission to a 20-minute film about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the perfect way to start your day! When you learn more about the background and history of the park, it makes your visit even more interesting! The visitor center also features extensive natural history exhibits that you can browse after the film. Take your time to enjoy the exhibits and be sure to chat with a park ranger if you have any questions about the park!

2. Walking Distance from Our Hotel

gatlinburg trail foot bridgeAnother great reason to start your national park visit at the Sugarlands Visitor Center is because it is actually within walking distance from our hotel! While you can always jump in the car for a quick drive to the visitor center, the Gatlinburg Trail offers a pleasant 1.9 mile hike through the forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The trail offers beautiful views of the river, as well as the opportunity to see the foundations and chimneys of several old homesites! To access the Gatlinburg Trail from our hotel, simply turn left and walk down the Parkway until River Road. Once you hit River Road, turn right to access the trailhead!

3. Bookstore and Shop

The Sugarlands Visitor Center features the Great Smoky Mountains Association bookstore and shop, where you can pick up detailed trail guides, historical books and any other information that might interest you about the park! Whether you want to learn more about the park’s fascinating past, the unique ecosystem, or the wildlife that call the park home, you will find the perfect book to purchase as a souvenir!

4. Starting Point for Cataract Falls Trail

cataract falls in the great smoky mountainsMany folks are pleasantly surprised to find out that the family-friendly Cataract Falls Trail starts just behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center! This 0.7 mile trail takes you on a journey through the forest before reaching the 40 foot Cataract Falls, and tree identification markers along the trail highlight the various types of trees in the area. If you want to walk even further, you can extend your hike with a 1-mile loop that goes to the John Ownby Cabin. Note that the loop trail will add about 30 minutes to your hike.

Check out all of the rooms at our hotel in downtown Gatlinburg today to plan your vacation near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Sugarlands Visitor Center! We look forward to seeing you soon at the Black Bear Inn & Suites!