Park to dedicate new Oconaluftee Visitor Center April 15
From Staff Reports
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is preparing to open the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, N.C., the Park’s first new visitor service facility since the early 1960s.
The Park has been serving visitors at that location in a small, 1,700-square-foot building built by the Civilian Conservation Corps for use as a ranger station, so the new facility will become the first structure in North Carolina to be built as a full-service visitor center.
The new 6,300-square-foot visitor center and adjacent 1,700-square-foot comfort station were constructed and donated by the Great Smoky Mountains Association at a cost of $3 million. The Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park provided over $550,000 to fund the visitor orientation and museum components.
The theme of the new facility is the rich cultural history of the Smokies ranging from prehistoric times through the arrival of European settlements, logging in the area, the Park’s Creation and the contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The center was designed from the ground up to be a model of energy efficiency and sustainability. 0It incorporates a broad suite of features including geothermal wells, solartube lighting, rainwater collectors to supply the rest rooms, and extensive recycled building materials.
The formal dedication of the visitor center is scheduled for 11 a.m. April 15.
road opens early
Clingmans Dome Road is traditionally scheduled to reopen each spring on April 1, but this year, the snow melted off, and the Visitor Contact Station, rest rooms and other facilities are ready to go, so the road will open Wednesday morning.