Outdoors Latest

GSMA opens new Townsend visitor center

The new facility doubles retail space of the previous location. GSMA photo The new facility doubles retail space of the previous location. GSMA photo

A new visitor center and retail space is now open just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Townsend, Tennessee, offering information, education materials, souvenirs, parking tags and other park-related goods to Smokies visitors. 

The visitor center, operated by the Great Smoky Mountains Association, replaces the Townsend Visitor Center GSMA had shared with Blount Partnership since 1992. After more than 30 years, both organizations’ needs had outgrown the shared space. GSMA established a separate space of its own, right across the road.

“This new visitor center allows us to support Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a larger scale, with much more information and merchandise for park visitors to explore,” said CEO Laurel Rematore. 

The Great Smokies Welcome Center has double the retail space of the previous location, with a vaulted ceiling, log cabin-style porch and dedicated areas for membership information, merchandise and educational displays developed in collaboration with the National Park Service. The second floor includes private event space and expanded facilities for GSMA’s creative team and retail staff.

The facility, located at 7929 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, is one of eight visitor centers and retail bookstores GSMA operates in and around the park. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening will take place in late winter or early spring.

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