Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Now Open for Spring
The spring weather has made its way to the Smoky Mountains. With the warm weather pushing its way into the area, and flowers are starting to bloom and visitors are getting excited about spending more time outdoors! If you’re one of those visitors who can’t wait to spend time in the national park, you’ll be happy to know that officials have finally announced the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Spring Opening Schedule.
Every year, we are sad to see certain areas of the national park close for the winter season. While the majority of the national park remains open during the snowy months, there are a few areas visitors absolutely love and miss. Now that the weather is warming up, it’s safe for the national park officials to reopen those popular Smoky Mountain hiking trails and roads.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Spring Opening Schedule
According to the National Park Service, the following roads will reopen for spring in the Smokies:
- Forge Creek Road (Closes December 31, weather permitting)
- Clingmans Dome Road (Closes November 30)
- Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road (Closes October 30)
- Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (Closes November 27)
- Rich Mountain Road (Closes November 13)
- Little Greenbrier Road (Closes November 26)
- Balsam Mountain Road (Closes October 30)
- Heintooga Ridge Road (Closes October 30)
Due to road damage and hazardous trees, Parson’s Branch Road does not have a scheduled opening date for 2017.
Sugarlands and Cades Cove visitor centers remain open throughout the year, but their hours will lengthen to accommodate hikers and visitors who want to stop by later in the day. In addition, the Clingmans Dome visitor center will open once again for the beautiful spring season. At these locations, you can find everything you need from maps, books, clothing and gifts all related to the national park.
The following are operating hours for the visitor centers:
Sugarlands Visitor Center
- Through March: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- April through May: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- June through August: 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Cades Cove Visitor Center
- March: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
- April: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- May through July: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- August: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Clingmans Dome Visitor Center
- *Clingmans Dome Visitor Center opens on April 1
- April through June: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- July: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
- August through October: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It’s always a great idea to pack a delicious lunch and enjoy the Smoky Mountains hiking trails. Why not make a stop at one of the lovely picnic areas to enjoy a meal? Now that the spring flowers are blooming, these picnic spots will be opening:
- March 11: Chimneys picnic area (Closes November 26)
- April 1: Twin Creeks picnic area (Reservations required through Recreation.gov) (Closes October 29)
- April 7: Collins Creek picnic area (Closes October 29)
- April 14: Big Creek picnic area, Cosby picnic area (Closes October 29)
- The Look Rock Picnic area will remain closed for the year.
Picnic Areas Open Year Round:
- Cades Cove
- Deep Creek
- Metcalf Bottoms (Picnic pavilion opens April 14)
Until 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays through September 27, the Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed to motor vehicles. During these hours, the loop road can only be used by bicyclists and pedestrians. Outside of these times, the road is open from sunrise to sunset every day.
1. Wildflowers. Probably the most popular reason people go hiking in the Smokies in the spring is to see the wildflowers. Once they’ve bloomed, there’s nowhere you can go without seeing a flower or two.
2. Adventure. Everyone likes having a little adventure in their life, especially while they’re on vacation, right? Well, the perfect way to add a little adventure is to tackle one of the Smoky Mountain hiking trails this spring!
3. Exercise. The easiest way to exercise while you’re spending time in the Smokies is to hit one of the hiking trails! It’s lots of fun and you won’t even realize you’re getting a workout! Even the beginner trails and nature walks will give you that little extra boost of healthy exercise while you’re out and about.
4. Waterfalls. After the freezing winter months, the waterfalls definitely start flowing over the rocks again. The spring months are some of the most beautiful to take pictures of the flowers and waterfalls. Just remember to be careful when you’re at the waterfalls because you don’t want to consume any of the water as it’s filled with bacteria. It’s best to admire the waterfalls from a distance or just be safe when you’re splashing around the water.
Want more fun things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains this spring? You can take a look at our Smoky Mountain events calendar for all sorts of fun things to do in the Smoky Mountain area during your stay!