Great Smoky Mountains National Park Phased Reopening Begins May 9, 2020
(UPDATED, 24 July 2020) GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK – The National Park Service recently issued a statement outlining the phased re-opening of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Beginning May 9, 2020, the public will be able to visit the park, albeit in limited capacity.
Due to the changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19, openings and closings remain fluid. While the following information is deemed reliable it is not infallible. Please check with the National Park Service for the latest information before planning your next park outing.
1. Which visitor centers are open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
- Cable Mill in Cades Cove
- Clingmans Dome
- Mingus Mill near Oconaluftee
- Oconaluftee Visitor Center
- Sugarlands Visitor Center
2. Which campgrounds are open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
3. The Following Campgrounds Remain Closed:
Family Campgrounds: Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee, and Cosby. Group Campgrounds: Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont. Horse Camps: Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom, and Tow String.
4. Which roads are open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
- Abrams Creek Campground Road
- Balsam Mountain Road
- Big Creek Road
- Cades Cove Loop Road (Road will open daily at 8:00 a.m. Closed to motor vehicles on Wednesdays from June 17 to September 30, 2020 for bicycles and pedestrians only.)
- Cataloochee Road
- Cherokee Orchard Road
- Clingmans Dome Road
- Cosby Road
- Deep Creek Road
- Elkmont Road
- Foothills Parkway
- Forge Creek Road
- Gatlinburg Bypass
- Greenbrier Road (Due to roadwork, open to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead only.)
- Heintooga Round Bottom Road
- Highway 284
- Lakeview Drive
- Laurel Creek Road
- Little River Road
- Newfound Gap Road/Highway 441
- Rich Mountain Road
- Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
- Straight Fork Road
- Tom Branch Road
- Tow String Road
- Tremont Road
- Twenty Mile Road
- Upper Tremont Road
- Wear Cove Gap Road
5. The following road remains closed for motorists, but are open for pedestrians and cyclists. Please park responsibly in public areas when accessing this location:
6. Which restrooms are open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
7. Which picnic areas are open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
**Note that pavilions and Spence Cabin must be reserved through Recreation.gov
8. Which concessions are open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
9. Which back country operations are open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
- All trails are open, however, Trillium Gap Trail will be closed from Grotto Falls to the summit of Mt. Le Conte on Mondays through Thursdays until November 12, 2020 for Trails Forever Rehabilitation work. Hikers may still walk from the trailhead to Grotto Falls.
- All trails and backcountry campsites & shelters will open with reduced capacity limits. Some trailheads will not be accessible due to road access.
- AT Thru-hiker Permits will not be issued.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Press Release of April 30, 2020:
“Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is increasing recreational access and services. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
Beginning May 9, the park will reopen many roads and trails. The health and safety of employees, partners, volunteers, visitors, and local residents remains the highest priority in park reopening decisions. Park managers will examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored. Park managers will also continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for all users.
“We recognize this closure has been extremely difficult for our local residents, as well as park visitors from across the country, who seek the park as a special place for healing, exercise, recreation, and inspiration,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We are approaching this phased reopening with that in mind, as we balance our responsibility to protect park resources and the health and safety of everyone.”
Park managers are implementing new safety measures in facility operations and services to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as areas reopen to the public. Campgrounds, picnic pavilions, visitor centers, and many secondary roads will remain closed during the first reopening phase, which is expected to last for at least two weeks. Some of these measures will include disinfectant fogging operations for restrooms and public buildings, installation of plexiglass shields at visitor centers, personal protective equipment requirements for maintenance workers, new safety protocols for emergency services staff, and reduced group size limits.
While many areas will be accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. The park typically has more than one million visitors each month, May through October, from across the country. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities. The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
For the most up to date information about facility openings, service hours, and access, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
Park rangers remain available to answer questions and help with trip planning via email or phone during business hours at (865) 436-1291, (828) 506-8620, or GRSM_Smokies_Information@nps.gov.”
(PAGE UPDATED JULY 24, 2020 at 10:08 AM)