Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and an International Biosphere Reserve that straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Because of its substantial size, its location within a few hundred miles of several large cities, its year-round accessibility, and of course its general appeal to a wide variety of people, it consistently ranks the most-visited national park in the United States of America, with 9-10 million visits per year.
When planning a trip in the park, it is helpful to keep in mind that elevations in the park range from 800 feet to 6,643 feet and that the topography can drastically affect local weather. Temperatures can easily vary 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit from mountain base to top, and clear skies lower down do not guarantee equally pleasant weather at higher elevations. Rainfall averages 55 inches per year in the lowlands to 85 inches per year at Clingmans Dome.
The visitor centers offer books and souvenirs pertaining to the park. The Cable Mill store, in Cades Cove, offers the same, as well as grains ground in the on site, water powered, historic cable mill. The main focus of the park is nature, not commerce, so don't expect huge selections of goods.
Autotouring is a nice way to see the park; however, gas is not sold in the park. There are gas stations in the surrounding cities.
Camp stores are expensive and have limited selection. There might be a restaurant or two, but lines are long and prices high. Since the near-by tourist towns of Gatlinburg and Cherokee are very tourist oriented, they offer a variety of restaurants to suit any taste. Your best bet is to visit a grocery store and buy ready-to eat or picnic style food. Many places in the park offer great locations to pull off the road and have a meal in nature. There are also many designated picnic areas in the park, including Collins Creek and Chimney Tops along Highway 441 and Greenbrier and Cades Cove along Laurel Creek Road.