Highlights: historic buildings, visitor center, walking trails
Oconaluftee offers both a visitor center and the Mountain Farm Museum – a collection of historic log buildings gathered from throughout the Smoky Mountains and preserved on a single site. Buildings include a house, barn, applehouse, springhouse, and smokehouse.
At the visitor center, rangers can answer your questions about the park and there is a bookstore with a broad selection of guides, maps, and other products.
the mountain farm museum
The Mountain Farm Museum is a unique collection of farm buildings assembled from locations throughout the park. Visitors can explore a log farmhouse, barn, apple house, springhouse, and a working blacksmith shop to get a sense of how families may have lived 100 years ago. Most of the structures were built in the late 19th century and were moved here in the 1950s. The Davis House offers a rare chance to view a log house built from chestnut wood before the chestnut blight decimated the American Chestnut in our forests during the 1930s and early 1940s. The museum is adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
The site also demonstrates historic gardening and agricultural practices, including livestock. An inexpensive, self-guiding tour booklet is available.
Two excellent walking trails start from the vicinity.
- The Oconaluftee River Trail follows its namesake stream for 1.5 miles to Cherokee. This easy trail begins near the entrance to the museum and it is stroller-accessible.
- Mingus Creek Trail climbs past old farms to the Smokies high country.
- from Cherokee – 2
- from Gatlinburg – 30
- from Townsend – 50
We visited the Oconaluftee Visitors Center last year for the first time. It’s a really nice drive to get there, through Newfound gap. Past Clingman’s Dome and Mingus Mill. Keep an eye out in this area because right before the visitors center there are fields on both sides of the road and you may see Elk grazing. If you are visiting in the winter and want to see snow, this would be a good drive to take as well. The altitude is much higher than Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
We love these visitors’ centers and talking to the rangers because it is obvious how much they love the area and they are a great source of information. They will always tell you something you haven’t heard before.
At the farm we enjoyed walking through the farm and seeing how the early settlers survived and flourished. They worked so hard every day preparing for the next season. Failure was not an option because there was no safety net in those days.
This would be a great day trip from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg because there is so much history there.