Visitors flood The Great Smoky Mountains National Park on opening weekend

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Opening Weekend
Traffic in Cades Cove on reopening weekend. (photo by Daniel Munson/

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park began phase one of their post-coronavirus reopening plan last weekend after being closed for nearly two months. Phase one included the opening of a large number of roads, trails, picnic areas and restrooms.

And it seems, for many eager park-goers, the grand reopening was long overdue.

Parking lots were packed, traffic was heavy throughout the park and according to one witness in an article by the Associated Press, some patrons were even walking past heavy barricades on one of the park’s most trafficked trails, Laurel Falls, which was meant to be closed off completely at this time.

“With the massive number of cars in the park this weekend, it’s almost hard to believe we’ve been under quarantine,” said local photographer Daniel Munson. “But with tourism having been so badly affected by this virus, it’s somewhat encouraging to see so many finally returning to visit the Smokies.”

Visitors enjoy a sunny afternoon at The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (photo by Daniel Munson/

The park originally closed on March 24 amid coronavirus concerns, citing fears of over-crowding. At the time of closure, the park was receiving nearly 30,000 daily visitors which resulted in potentially unsafe, congested conditions at popular locations.

The park originally hoped to begin phase two of the reopening process within two weeks of phase one, but details on exactly what phase two will entail have not yet been provided and will likely be largely dependent on population infection rates and how well visitors are heeding the guidelines the park has put in place. The park has committed to take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

Read More: Great Smoky Mountains National Park phased reopening begins today, visitor centers to remain closed

Visitors enjoying the view from the Sinks area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (photo by Daniel Munson/
The view at the Sinks on reopening weekend in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (photo by Daniel Munson/

For additional information about these openings and how the NPS is keeping you safe in the Smokies, check out the park’s official website at

Visit the CDC website and the Tennessee Department of Health website for the latest information about the coronavirus.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

1 Comment

  1. So glad to see the park busy again – just maintain your social distance!

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