Plan Your Visit

To help plan for your trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and your experiment at HFIR and SNS, a checklist is available here or as a PDF to help keep track of important steps to complete before arriving.

User Agreement

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requires UT-Batelle (ORNL's operating contractor) and a user's institution to sign, in advance, a standard agreement. This agreement covers topics such as intellectual property, liability, site access, safety, and publications. The User Agreement is not project specific and applies to most of an institution's approved Neutron Sciences proposals.

If you are a new user:

  • Log in to your account through the Guest Portal and look for the User Agreement Acknowledgement action item.
  • Read and acknowledge the terms for your agreement.
  • Click on the "Accept Agreement" button.

If you are a first-time user and there is no User Agreement Acknowledgment in your account, contact ORNL Business Services to initiate an agreement for your institution.

Returning users do not need to accept the User Agreement for each experiment unless they have changed institutions.

User Charter

All users must read the User Charter before arriving at ORNL to understand the rights and responsibilities of a user. A pdf version of the User Charter can be found here.

Training and Safety

Safety is integral to the ORNL mission. Users must agree to adhere to all safety requirements and complete the training deemed necessary for safe operations. Training is both web-based and in person at ORNL before experiments begin.

Prearrival, Web-Based Training

The User Office will contact you with information about your required training and provide the appropriate links. The following web-based trainings must be completed trough the Guest Portal before arriving:

  • ORNL Site Access Training
  • HFIR General User Access Training (GUAT for Neutron Scattering Users) for all HFIR experiments
  • SNS Experiment Hall Access Training for all SNS experiments
  • Radiological Worker Training for HFIR and SNS users

On-site Training

The Practical Factors Evaluation (PFE) is required after the successful completion of the web-based Radiological Worker Training. PFE classes are held Monday through Friday and scheduled by the User Office once your arrival date has been determined.

The PFE will appear in your account once it is assigned. This does not indicate you must complete the PFE training online. The PFE can only be completed in person after you check in for your experiment.

Depending on experiment details, laboratory and instrument specific trainings may also be required. You will be contacted to schedule these trainings.

Travel

When to Arrive

Plan to arrive a full day in advance of your scheduled beam time to complete onsite training. By completing this training the day before scheduled beam time, research can begin more quickly the following day. This is especially helpful for short experiments.
After you finalize your travel arrangements, communicate your arrival date with the Visitor Center and the User Office to ensure site access and training are scheduled for the correct day.

Notice on Availability, Scheduling, and Travel

HFIR and SNS are committed to ensuring the neutron sources and beam line equipment are available to users in accordance with published schedules. However, there may be occasions when the neutron sources and/or beam line equipment are not available as planned.

When beam time is lost due to neutron source or beam line system issues, we are committed to actively working with users to reschedule beam time to minimize the impact on users. However, to limit overall user community impact, the schedule for unaffected experiments will be maintained.

In accordance with our sponsor's policies, please be aware ORNL cannot reimburse users for travel expenses they may incur should the neutron source beam line equipment not be available. It is recommended to only purchase refundable transportation tickets. 

How to Get Here

ORNL can only be directly accessed by car. No public transportation is available to reach ORNL, and ride sharing services, such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, are not permitted on the ORNL site.

Taxis are permitted to travel onsite if they are dropping off or picking up a valid ORNL visitor. Users who plan to use a taxi for transportation off the ORNL site, should notify the taxi to inform the guard at the portal who they are picking up. For any questions concerning permitted taxi services, contact the Visitor Center at (865) 574-7199 or x10visit@ornl.gov.

For the most convenient form of transportation, experiment teams are encouraged to rent or bring a car and include at least one licensed driver for the duration of a team's stay. A car is highly recommended for several reasons:

  1. Transportation to and from the airport
    The closest airport, McGhee Tyson Airport is about 30 miles, or approximately a 40-minute drive, away from ORNL. No public transportation is available from the airport to ORNL.
  2. Managing your experiment when the campus taxis are not running
    ORNL is a large facility, and HFIR is approximately three miles from the ORNL Guest House. The ORNL on-campus taxi service, designed for on-campus trips only, is limited to Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  3. Meal planning for dinner and weekends
    There is no on-campus grocery and meal options are limited at ORNL on evenings and weekends.

Arriving by Air

McGhee Tyson Airport

McGhee Tyson Airport is conveniently located about a 40-minute drive by car from ORNL and is frequently used by visitors. Rental cars and taxis offer transportation from the airport to ORNL. See below for driving to ORNL from McGhee Tyson Airport .

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive (224 miles) by car to ORNL. About 150 domestic and 70 international destinations are served from this airport. Rental cars are available at the airport. See driving directions below for driving to ORNL from Atlanta, Georgia

Nashville International Airport

Nashville International Airport in Nashville, Tennessee is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive (160 miles) by car to ORNL.  Rental cars are available at the airport. See directions below for driving to ORNL from Nashville, Tennessee.

Arriving by Car

Be aware when driving to ORNL navigation systems may attempt to direct you on restricted routes. Cars can only access ORNL through the vehicle entrances (portals) located on both ends of Bethel Valley Road (pdf map).

Driving to ORNL from McGhee Tyson Airport

Exit the airport, taking US 129 North toward Knoxville. Continue approximately 1.5 miles, then exit onto I-140 to Oak Ridge. Continue onto I-140 for approximately 11.5 miles. Keep straight (left lane) onto Pellissippi Parkway (TN 162 North). Continue on Pellissippi Parkway until you cross the Herman B. Bridge. After crossing the bridge, merge into the right-lane exit for Bethel Valley Road. Continue through the traffic light on Bethel Valley Road until you reach the east vehicle entrance. Use the visitor lane and stop at the guardhouse to show your ID. After passing through the security checkpoint, continue onto Bethel Valley Road for approximately 5 miles. After the second traffic light, enter the traffic circle (roundabout), and go about ¾ of the way around to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot. The Visitor Center is the glassed-in section of the ORNL Conference Center. If parking is not available in the Visitor Center Parking lot, park in the Conference Center lot on the other side of the traffic circle.

Driving to ORNL from the East (Knoxville)

Take I-40 West from downtown Knoxville for approximately 10 miles. Take Exit 376 onto Pellissippi Parkway (TN 162 North). Continue on Pellissippi Parkway until you cross the Herman B. Bridge. After crossing the bridge, merge into the right-lane exit for Bethel Valley Road. Continue through the traffic light on Bethel Valley Road until you reach the east vehicle entrance. Use the visitor lane and stop at the guardhouse to show your ID. After passing through the security check, continue onto Bethel Valley Road for approximately 5 miles. After the second traffic light, enter the traffic circle (roundabout), and go about ¾ of the way around to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot. The Visitor Center is the glassed-in section of the ORNL Conference Center. If parking is not available in the Visitor Center Parking lot, park in the Conference Center lot on the other side of the traffic circle.

Driving to ORNL from the West (Nashville)

Take I-40 East from Nashville, Tennessee for approximately 160 miles. Take Exit 364 to Oak Ridge/Lenoir City. Keep left at the fork and continue onto TN95 / US 321 S towards Oak Ridge. Continue on TN 95 for about 4 miles. Turn right at the stop light onto Bethel Valley Road and proceed to the west vehicle entrance. Use the visitor lane and stop at the guardhouse to show your ID. After passing through the security check, continue onto Bethel Valley Road for approximately 1.5 miles to the Visitor Center. Enter the traffic circle and take the first right to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot. The Visitor Center is the glassed-in section of the ORNL Conference Center. If parking is not available in the Visitor Center Parking lot, park in the Conference Center lot on the other side of the traffic circle.

Or

Take I-40 East from Nashville, Tennessee for approximately 170 miles past the point where I-40E and I-75N join. Take Mabry Hood (Exit 376) onto Pellissippi Parkway (TN 162 North) following the signs to Oak Ridge. Continue on Pellissippi Parkway until you cross the Herman B. Bridge. After crossing the bridge, merge into the right-lane exit for Bethel Valley Road. Continue through the traffic light on Bethel Valley Road until you reach the east vehicle entrance. Use the visitor lane and stop at the guardhouse to show your ID. After passing through the security check, continue onto Bethel Valley Road for approximately 5 miles. After the second traffic light, enter the traffic circle (roundabout), and go about ¾ of the way around to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot. The Visitor Center is the glassed-in section of the ORNL Conference Center. If parking is not available in the Visitor Center Parking lot, park in the Conference Center lot on the other side of the traffic circle. 

Driving to ORNL from the South (Atlanta or Chattanooga)

From I-75 North past the point where I-40E and I-75N join, take the Mabry Hood (Exit 376) onto Pellissippi Parkway (TN 162 North) following the signs to Oak Ridge. Continue on Pellissippi Parkway until you cross the Herman B. Bridge. After crossing the bridge, merge into the right-lane exit for Bethel Valley Road. Continue through the traffic light on Bethel Valley Road until you reach the east vehicle entrance. Use the visitor lane and stop at the guardhouse to show your ID. After passing through the security check, continue onto Bethel Valley Road for approximately 5 miles. After the second traffic light, enter the traffic circle (roundabout), and go about ¾ of the way around to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot. The Visitor Center is the glassed-in section of the ORNL Conference Center. If parking is not available in the Visitor Center parking lot, park in the Conference Center lot on the other side of the traffic circle.

Driving to ORNL from the North (Lexington)

From I-75 South, take I-64W to I-40W. Take Exit 376 onto Pellissippi Parkway (TN 162 North) following the signs to Oak Ridge. Continue onto Pellissippi Parkway until you cross the Herman B. Bridge. After crossing the bridge, merge to the right-lane exit for Bethel Valley Road. Continue through the traffic light on Bethel Valley Road until you reach the east vehicle entrance. Use the visitor lane and stop at the guardhouse to show your ID. After passing through the security check, continue onto Bethel Valley Road for approximately 5 miles. After the second traffic light, enter the traffic circle (roundabout), and go about ¾ of the way around to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot. The Visitor Center is the glassed-in section of the ORNL Conference Center. If parking is not available in the Visitor Center Parking lot, park in the Conference Center lot on the other side of the traffic circle.

Driving to ORNL from Oak Ridge

Proceed south on Illinois Avenue, staying in the right lane. At the intersection of S. Illinois and Scarboro Road / Lafayette Road, turn right onto Scarboro Road. Immediately merge into the left lane and proceed through the traffic light past the Y-12 Plant (on right). Continue on Scarboro Road over the hill to the intersection with Bethel Valley Road at the next traffic light. Take the right entrance ramp onto Bethel Valley Road. Continue on Bethel Valley Road until you reach the east vehicle entrance. Use the visitor lane and stop at the guardhouse to show your ID. After passing through the security check, continue onto Bethel Valley Road for approximately 5 miles. After the second traffic light, enter the traffic circle (roundabout), and go about ¾ of the way around to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot. The Visitor Center is the glassed-in section of the ORNL Conference Center. If parking is not available in the Visitor Center Parking lot, park in the Conference Center lot on the other side of the traffic circle.

Accommodations

The ORNL Guest House is a convenient onsite location for users to stay close by throughout their experiment. The Guest House is located a short walk from SNS and about a 10-minute drive from HFIR, and offers several amenities, such as a free breakfast and fitness center, for those who stay there.

For those who would prefer to stay offsite, there are a variety of long and short-term hotels and other accommodations in   Oak Ridge and Knoxville . Keep in mind there is no ORNL or public transportation available, and you must provide your own transportation to and from offsite accommodations.

Arrival Instructions

The arrival process for Neutron Sciences users consists of three steps and must be completed at the beginning of each visit to ORNL. Users staying offsite do not need to repeat every step for each subsequent trip onsite during their experiment.

Users should be familiar with the process before arriving.

  1. Stop for ID check at the vehicle entrance.
  2. Pick up badge and dosimeter at the Visitor Center.
  3. Check in at HFIR or SNS.

For a detailed description of the arrival process, go to Arrival and Check-In.

ID and Required Documents

Users must present the proper identification and travel documents when they arrive at ORNL. Anyone who fails to present these, will not be permitted site access and will be unable to conduct research at HFIR or SNS.

REAL ID

ORNL is a Federal Facility and will, in compliance with the REAL ID Act, require an acceptable form of identification:

  • A REAL ID compliant state driver's license
  • A passport
  • A military ID

Users without compliant identification will not be allowed access to ORNL or its facilities (HFIR and SNS). If you hold a driver's license from one of the noncompliant states, you will need an alternate ID. For more information on REAL ID and to check if your state is compliant, please visit the TSA website and the DHS Real ID Brief.

Additional Documentation for Foreign Nationals

A current passport and visa documents, or LPR (green) card, are required for foreign nationals to participate in research at ORNL. For example, I-797, DS-2019, or I-20 forms or EAD cards. These items must be presented to the receptionist at the Visitor Center.

Individuals traveling from outside the United States must arrive with a Business - Type Visa, either a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - Business or Visitor Visa - Business (B-1) status. This status must be stamped by the immigration officer at the port of entry. Before leaving the immigration station, carefully inspect the stamp and ensure it says visa waiver - business (VW-B) or B-1. If it says anything else, explain to the immigration officer you are entering the United States for business and require a stamp that reflects a business visit.