Between 8-10 million people visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year, making it the most visited national park in the country.
Located in the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, the park encompasses 815 square miles of which 95 percent are forested. World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal resources, the beauty of its ancient mountains, the quality of its remnants of southern Appalachian mountain culture, and the depth and integrity of the wilderness sanctuary within its boundaries, it is one of the largest protected areas in the East. The park is open year-round. Visitor centers at Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove are open all year, except Christmas Day.
There is no entrance fee due to restrictions in deeds that transferred state highways to the Park.
Elevations in the park range from 800 feet to 6,643 feet and topography affects local weather. Temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees cooler on the mountaintops.
Spring brings unpredictable weather, particularly in higher elevations. Snow may fall in March, but by May daytime highs often reach the 80s. Nighttime temperatures vary from below freezing in March to the 50s in May. Rainfall is common during the season.
Summer is hot and humid, but more pleasant in higher elevations. July and August highs reach the 80s and 90s. Evening lows are in the 60s and 70s. Afternoon showers and thunderstorms are common.
Fall has warm days and cool nights and is the driest period. Frosts occur starting in late September. Daytime highs are in the 70s and 80s during September, falling to the 50s and 60s in early November. By November, nighttime lows are usually near freezing and snow is possible.
Winter is generally moderate, but extreme conditions can occur. It is not unusual to have warm temperatures in the low elevations and snow in the higher areas. Half the days in the winter have high temperatures of 50 degrees or more. Nighttime lows are normally at or below freezing, but can drop to -20?F at high elevation.