The Smoky Mountains and American Patriot Getaways cabins have many accessible cabin and adventure options. An accessible cabin is a property that typically has a level parking spot. In addition, they have no more than one step required for entry, utilize a 3-foot or greater entry door, and include an entry level bedroom and bathroom. The adventures are sites from the car and wheelchair accessible path and entries.

Read ahead for our favorite attractions and cabins! If a member of your group requires special accommodations, please be sure to call our reservations office at (800) 204-5169 for answers to your specific questions about accessibility.

Let’s talk adventure!

You can enjoy the Smoky Mountains from your vehicle as well as the accessible facilities and programs offered in the park. There’s everything from viewing scenery and wildlife to exploring the intricacies of the forest floor. There’s also learning about the resourceful people who made a living from in this rugged part of the country.

Sugarlands Visitor Center

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is the perfect place to start your first journey into the park. You can pick up a map of the park, ask the rangers any questions you might have or check out some of the exhibits that are on display throughout the visitor center. There’s also a 20-minute movie about the park that you can watch for free. If you miss this stop before you explore the park, stop by after to visit the gift shop, and pick up a souvenir.

Designated accessible parking spaces are available as well as restrooms. The visitor center is open year-round, except Christmas day, and is fully accessible. Accessible ranger-led programs are listed in the Smokies Guide newspaper.

Most trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are steep and rugged. However, the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is a flat, concrete surface suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. The short distance makes it a quick hike of less than thirty minutes. Interpretive exhibits are located along the one-half mile paved trail. They describe the unique historic and natural features as the trail winds through second growth forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center, the Mountain Farm Museum, and Mingus Mill

Next, you’ll find that designated accessible parking spaces are available at the visitor center. Restrooms are accessible. The visitor center is open year-round, except Christmas day, and is accessible. Exhibits, information desk, and book sales area are all on one level.

Also, the paths through the nearby Mountain Farm Museum are hard-packed gravel and wheelchair-accessible with assistance. A guide booklet about the historic structures is available for a small fee. You can view most of the buildings from the outside via doorways. Plus,  a ramp provides access to the house. Most talks and demonstrations are accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.

Mingus Mill, one-half mile north of the visitor center, is open seasonally. Accessible restrooms are adjacent to the parking area. A paved and packed-gravel trail of about 100 yards makes the mill accessible with assistance. A single step allows access to the interior ground floor of the mill. A guide leaflet and loose-leaf binder containing photographs of the interior of the mill are available. Millers are available to explain the milling process and answer questions.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is a favorite destination for many people visiting the Smokies.  In fact, if Cades Cove was its own National Park, it would be the third most visited national park in the country! With more than 11 million people coming through the Smokies each year, nearly 4 million of them choose a trip to Cades Cove. Here are six reasons YOU should visit Cades Cove on your next Smoky Mountain vacation.

First, the 11-mile, one-way road through Cades Cove makes a scenic drive through an amazing valley. Secondly, designated accessible parking spaces are available in the campground/picnic area parking lot across from the ranger station. The Cades Cove Campground Store and adjacent restrooms are accessible.

Third, the historic buildings along the loop road are not accessible due to steps, lack of hard-surfaced walkways, and distance. However, many of the exteriors can be viewed from your vehicle. The trail through the complex of historic buildings is level and surfaced with hard-packed gravel. Most of the buildings can be viewed from the outside doorways. The Becky Cable House is accessible via a ramp. The interior of the Cable mill is accessible when open. Aside with the exceptions noted above, seasonal guided tours are accessible.

The Cades Cove Auto Tour booklet, available for a fee in the Cable Mill area and at the start of the 11-mile loop road, provides a description of this historic area.

Other Tips for Accessibility in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Temporary Parking Permit – If you have a physical disability (including a temporary disability) or have in your company someone who needs accessible parking, you may get a temporary parking permit at Sugarlands or Oconaluftee visitor centers.

Parkwide Facilities

Amphitheaters – The most accessible amphitheater is at Cades Cove. It is level, and adjacent restrooms are accessible. The amphitheaters at Elkmont and Smokemont have paved trails, but they are steep and may require assistance.

Auto Tours – Next, the park’s backroads offer a chance to escape traffic and explore remote areas. A road guide and self-guided auto tour booklets are available for several popular, and a few quieter destinations in the park including Cades Cove, Newfound Gap Road, Roaring Fork, Tremont, and Cataloochee. Purchase any of these items at visitor centers.

Camping – Reservations for an “accessible unit” (wheelchair accessible) can be made for campsites in three campgrounds. These camp grounds: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont, open from May 15 to October 31. For reservations, call 1-877-444-6777. Accessible sites are generally level and located adjacent to accessible restrooms. They have modified the campsites with paving, specialized tables, and fire grills.

Horse Camp – Big Creek Horse Camp has an accessible campsite and restroom that are open seasonally. Reservations are required by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Horseback Riding Stables – The restrooms at Smokemont and Sugarlands riding stables are accessible.

Access Passport

If you are a U.S. citizen and have a permanent disability, you may obtain a free America the Beautiful Access Pass. This can be done in person at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont Campground Kiosks. This can be done June through September; Online: Order this free pass from the USGS Store; or by mail: Purchase a Senior Pass using an application form (558KB PDF) that can be exchanged through mail. The cost of obtaining an Access Pass through the mail is $10 for processing the application (the pass is free)

Adventures in town

Skylift Park

The SkyCenter at the SkyDeck on Crockett Mountain is overlooking Gatlinburg and offers  “sweeping panoramic views” of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park staff can accommodate disabled individuals on the SkyLift, SkyDeck, lower level of the SkyCenter, and the elevated boardwalk portion of the SkyTrail.  However, the SkyBridge is not wheelchair accessible. Please see our Accessibility page for details

The SkyDeck, which is the main level of the SkyCenter snack bar and gift shop, is the elevated boardwalk portion of the SkyTrail and it’s wheelchair accessible.

Anakeesta

Then, located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg with mountain views and 70 forested acres of fun and relaxation. Also, Anakeesta is a mountain playground for all ages with some of the most spectacular views.

More or less, while some parts – the Treetop Skywalk for example – are not wheelchair accessible, the best parts of Anakeesta are. These include dining, Firefly Village shops, and the view. Along with these are Vista Gardens and scenic viewing platforms and are accessible to all. The Gondola cabins are 32″ wide and 49″ deep to accommodate both wheelchairs and strollers for the ride to the summit.

Read our blog about Anakeesta for all there is do and see here.

Space Needle

Also, the iconic Gatlinburg Space Needle landmark is a 407-foot observation tower that overlooks downtown Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. Ride the glass elevators to the observation deck for a 360° view of the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg.

Check out the Space Needle web cam here. Find the Space Needle at 115 Historic Nature Trail Gatlinburg, 865-436-4629.

Ripley’s

Gatlinburg’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! has eight fun, and sometimes heart-stopping, and super weird adventures. Also, Ripley’s touts all of its attractions as ADA compliant.

Ripley’s history began more than a hundred years ago with a cartoon drawn by LeRoy Robert Ripley. Ripley began to travel and started publishing yearly books in 1929.  His first “Odditorium” opened at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. He also hosted a television show to show the world his affection for things beyond belief in the world in which we all live.

Today, the Gatlinburg attractions include an Odditorium. This is best described as a place where people can marvel at artifacts Ripley collected, as well as people, with amazing and unbelievable talents. Not to mention, there’s a haunted house like no other, along with an amazing aquarium filled with unique and fascinating animals. Additionally, it has two themed mini-golf adventures are part of the Ripley’s Gatlinburg family of fun and bizarre.

Ripley’s Gatlinburg attractions are open 365 days a year.

Accessible Aquarium

At Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, there are elevators and ramps to allow guests access to various levels. It features wide paths with plenty of room. Guest services offers wheelchairs free of charge. The aquarium entrance is elevated above the street, but there is both ramp and elevator access to reach the top.

The Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium is also wheelchair friendly with elevator access for guests.

Wheelchairs are available free of charge at our Guest Services counter on a first come first serve basis. Valid ID required. Please note, the Aquarium holds your ID until wheelchair is returned.

Also, noise cancelling headphones are available free of charge at our Guest Services counter on a first come first serve basis. Valid ID required. However, the Aquarium will holds ID’s until headphones are returned.

For any additional questions guest contact aquariumofthesmokies@ripleys.com and (865) 430-8808

Get Above it All at Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg sits atop the mountain and overlooks Gatlinburg. This ski area and amusement park has many family-friendly attractions. To reach Ober, drive your own vehicle or ride the Aerial Tramway. This too which is easily wheelchair accessible and a fun ride. Roll inside the glass-walled, enclosed capsule with your family and friends and see the most incredible views of the city on your way to the top of the mountain.

At the top of Ober, you’ll find an indoor ice-skating rink, an Alpine Slide, snow skiing slopes, shops, and restaurants. Also, don’t leave without viewing the bears at the Wildlife Encounter.

Dollywood and Ride Accessibility

Dollywood

Now spanning 160 acres, Dollywood wins awards annually as the “friendliest park atmosphere in the world.” Highly themed with Smoky Mountains history and preservation, key attractions include daily demonstrations of turn-of-the-century crafts, one-of-a-kind rides, and award-winning entertainment.

Visit Dollywood’s Ride Accessibility Center to enter an attraction thru the accessibility entrance. A Host at the Center will provide detailed information about rider requirements. Also, riders can receive a Boarding Pass to rides he or she will enjoy.

The center is located inside the park next to the Dollywood Emporium. Also, check out the  Dollywood Accessibility and Rider Requirement Guide, Park Map Guide and Entertainment Schedule for helpful resources to assist in planning.

Check out this first-hand look at accessibility at Dollywood.

2022 events at the park includes Dollywood Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health, Dollywood Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is presented by Humana featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health, and finally Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana.

Dollywood Flower and Food Festival

Accessible Cabins For Everyone

Finally, search American Patriot Getaways for its accessible friendly cabins.  Remember, these cabins are not ADA compliant. Or give American Patriot Getaways a call at 800-204-5169 and let our experts help you find the right cabin for your needs along with all the right fun, food and entertainment.

Check our boards where to eat in Gatlinburg and where to eat in Pigeon Forge.

If you need more help planning your Smoky Mountain Vacation, be sure to check out all our vacation guides.  As always, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

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