Great Smoky Mountains National Park NOW OPEN
UPDATED Thursday October 17, 2013 – With the government shutdown now over, the federal government has completely opened back up which means all of the national parks including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are open once again. This includes all hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, overlooks, etc. The opening takes place right at the peak of the fall colors at the highest elevations of the Smokies so it’s a perfect time to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall colors in the Great Smoky Mountains!
(Original article from October 1, 2013) – We have gotten a lot of questions asking if the Great Smoky Mountains National park is closed and we now have an official update as of October 1, 2013. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Public Affairs Office has released information regarding the park’s closure due to the government shutdown. All park visitor centers, campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, restrooms and facilities are closed during the shutdown. Additionally, all volunteer activities, ranger programs and special events are cancelled.
Roads that remain open through the park are the Highway 441 “spur”, which connects Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg bypass, which many people use to get around downtown Gatlinburg by going up the mountain. Also open is Newfound Gap Road which connects Gatlinburg to Cherokee,NC. All other roads within the park, including the Cades Cove loop, will be closed during the shutdown. The Cades Cove campground is also closed during the government shutdown.
Viewing Fall Foliage
If you want to get into the mountains to see the fall colors, one of the best routes to take coming from Pigeon Forge on Highway 441 is to get off on the Gatlinburg bypass just before you get into Gatlinburg. Follow that route up the mountain and you will come to a fantastic overlook on the left with picturesque views. Follow that road until it dead-ends back into 441. At that point you have the option of going into downtown Gatlinburg, or you can head up the mountain to Newfound Gap for a beautiful drive that as an incredible overlook at the top.
What is Open and Closed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
There have been a lot of questions as to exactly what is open and closed during the government shutdown of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The following information was provided by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park dispatch office for the Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce.
- Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) between Gatlinburg and Cherokee
- The overlook at Newfound Gap including restroom facility
- Most of the scenic overlooks
- The Gatlinburg Bypass between the north side of Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- “The Spur” between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg
- Great Smoky Mountains Association Visitor Centers outside the park as follows:
Gatlinburg Welcome Center
Townsend Welcome Center
7906 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy
Sevier County Visitor Center
3099 Winfield Dunn Parkway
(in the list below, “GSMNP” means Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
- All GSMNP hiking and horse trails
- All GSMNP roads except those mentioned above
- All GSMNP campgrounds
- All GSMNP picnic Areas
- Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Clingmans Dome, Cosby, Big Creek, Greenbrier, Balsam Mountain, The Mountain Farm Museum, etc.
- All GSMNP visitor centers
- All GSMNP restrooms (except Newfound Gap)
- Historic grist mills
- The Foothills Parkway East and West
- LeConte Lodge
- All GSMNP horse stables
- All GSMNP horse camps
- All GSMNP streams are closed to fishing
- Appalachian Trail shelters
Chief Ranger Clay Jordan said, “We ask that the public voluntarily respect the closure of the backcountry for everyone’s safety. With less staff on duty, we do not have the personnel on hand to sufficiently respond to emergency situations in the backcountry. We understand the desire of visitors to hike during this beautiful time of year and we are hopeful that the park will soon reopen.”
For more information about road closures, please call Great Smoky Mountains National Park office at 865-436-1200.
Smoky Mountains Closed – Updates
As the government comes to a resolution and resumes we will update this article with information regarding exactly what is opening up and when. Be sure to sign up for our email newsletter or like our facebook page to get updated as soon as new information is released.
Please share this page with others on facebook, twitter, etc to help us get the word out and keep visitors informed of what to expect when they visit the Smoky Mountains!