Great Smoky Mountains National Park begins final phase of reopening Sept 3

Only the Appalachian Clubhouse and group campsites will remain closed at this time, with public health in mind.
Only the Appalachian Clubhouse and group campsites will remain closed at this time, with public health in mind.

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Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is increasing access to additional campgrounds and picnic areas. 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.

“We are pleased to be able to offer more opportunities for visitors to disperse and recreate in the park in time for the Labor Day holiday and our busy fall season,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The park has experienced record visitation this summer and we want to remind everyone that we need your help more than ever to keep the park protected and clean.”

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers and partners continues to be paramount. At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, our operational approach continues to be centered on examining each facility function and service to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and are regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public areas and workspaces are safe and clean.”

The park provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation with over 800 miles of trails, quiet walkways and self-guiding nature trails where visitors can disperse for a safe hiking experience.

By restoring these additional services and access, the Smokies offers even more opportunities for visitors to spread out and responsibly recreate across the park.

The NPS encourages visitors to plan their visit by checking the park’s website and social media for current conditions and travel tips. The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

The park is asking the public to be their partner in recreating responsibly by following CDC and state and local guidance: choosing trails and overlooks without congested parking areas, visiting early in the morning, staying in vehicles while viewing wildlife to avoid crowded conditions, maintaining physical distance from other visitors and wearing face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Open now at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • All park trails
  • All backcountry campsites and shelters
  • All visitor centers and restrooms
  • Cable Mill in Cades Cove and Mingus Mill near Oconaluftee
  • Cades Cove, Elkmont, Deep Creek and Smokemont campgrounds
  • Anthony Creek Horse Camp
  • Big Creek, Cades Cove, Chimney Tops, Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier and Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Areas
  • Spence Cabin and all picnic pavilions for day-use rental
  • Concession operations: LeConte Lodge, Sugarlands Riding Stables, Cades Cove Riding Stables, Cades Cove Campstore and Smokemont Riding Stables

Spaces to reopen on Sept 3

Campgrounds

  • Abrams Creek
  • Balsam Mountain
  • Big Creek
  • Cataloochee
  • Cosby

Horse Camps

  • Big Creek
  • Cataloochee
  • Round Bottom
  • Tow String 

Picnic Areas

  • Heintooga 
  • Look Rock 

Roads

  • Little Greenbrier Road

Spaces that will remain closed until further notice

Only the Appalachian Clubhouse and group campsites will remain closed at this time, with public health in mind.

However, it might be worth noting that there are currently a few non-COVID-19 related closures in the park. Recent storm damage has caused the following facilities to temporarily close: Upper Greenbrier Road (preventing access to Greenbrier Picnic Pavilion, Porters Creek Trail and Brushy Mountain Trail) and the Upper Cataloochee Valley Road beyond Palmer Chapel. 

Reservations are still required at campgrounds and horse camps

Campsites and horse camps must be reserved online before arriving in the park for the following locations: Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Anthony Creek, Round Bottom and Tow String. No fees are accepted onsite at these locations.

Reservations are recommended at the following campgrounds to ensure availability, but credit card payments may be processed on site: Cades Cove, Elkmont and Smokemont. 

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) 497-1904, or [email protected]. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/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.

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