Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopening Updates

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park began reopening May 9! The reopening is happening in phases. In the first phase, many of the park’s roads and trails opened to the public. Phase 2 of the reopening plan kicked off on Tuesday, May 19 and included the opening of all trails, some campgrounds and more secondary roads. More areas of the park are continuing to open as time goes on! Sept. 3 welcomed a new round of openings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We’ve gathered as many details as we can about the reopening of the park to share with you!

What’s Open on September 3?

bridge over little greenbrier roadWe have good news! More areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened September 3! More campgrounds, picnic areas and horse camps are opening just in time for Labor Day weekend. Here is a list of the additional areas that opened on September 3:

  • Abrams Creek Campground
  • Balsam Mountain Campground
  • Big Creek Campground
  • Cataloochee Campground
  • Cosby Campground
  • Big Creek Horse Camp
  • Cataloochee Horse Camp
  • Round Bottom Horse Camp
  • Tow String Horse Camp
  • Heintooga Picnic Area
  • Look Rock Picnic Area
  • Little Greenbrier Road

The Appalachian Clubhouse, upper Greenbrier Road, and upper Cataloochee Valley Road beyond Palmer Chapel will remain closed at this time. The closure of Greenbrier Road prevents access to the Greenbrier picnic pavilion, Porters Creek Trail and Brushy Mountain Trail.

Now, all park trails, backcountry campsites and shelters, visitor centers and restrooms are open in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Reservations are required at Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Anthony Creek, Round Bottom and Tow String campgrounds and horse camps. Reservations are recommended at Cades Cove, Elkmont and Smokemont campgrounds.

Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopening below!

June 8 Openings

Cades Cove Visitor CenterBeginning Monday, June 8, more areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopened! These areas include some campgrounds, visitor centers and secondary roads. Here is a list of what opened on June 8:

  • Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds
  • Anthony Creek Horse Camp
  • Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, Cades Cove, and Clingmans Dome Visitor Centers and Great Smoky Mountains Association Bookstores
  • Backcountry Information Office at Sugarlands Visitor Center
  • Cable Mill and Mingus Mill
  • Rich Mountain Road
  • Abrams Creek Road
  • Cataloochee Road (to Palmer Chapel only)
  • Forge Creek Road

A week later, on June 15th, the park opened more areas, including Elkmont Campground, Elkmont Road and Spence Cabin.

With these new openings comes new measures to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff. These safety measures include the following:

  • Capacity limits at visitor centers
  • Social distancing floor decal reminders
  • Protective barriers between staff members and visitors
  • Closure of theater and museum spaces in visitor centers
  • Online reservations only for campgrounds
  • Restroom facilities disinfected and cleaned appropriately

You can find more details on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopening phases below!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopened May 9

Incredible sunset in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.On May 9, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park began reopening. According to a news release from the National Park Service, the reopening will happen in phases. The first phase included many roads and trails within the park. Campgrounds, visitor centers, and many secondary roads remained closed during the first phase. The first phase lasted about 2 weeks.

What Was Open and Closed in the First Phase?

  • Newfound Gap Road: Open
  • Sugarlands Visitor Center Restroom: Open
  • Chimney Tops Picnic Area: Open
  • Laurel Falls Trail: Closed
  • Gatlinburg Bypass: Open
  • Newfound Gap Restroom: Open
  • Alum Cave Trail: Closed
  • Little River Road: Open
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center Restroom: Open
  • Cades Cove Picnic Area: Open
  • Chimney Tops Trail: Closed
  • Wear Cove Road: Open
  • Cades Cove Cable Mill Restroom: Open
  • Clingmans Dome Observation Tower: Closed
  • Laurel Creek Road: Open
  • Abrams Falls Trailhead Restroom: Open
  • Cades Cove Loop Road: Open
  • Rainbow Falls Trailhead Restroom: Open
  • Cherokee Orchard Road: Open
  • Metcalf Bottoms Pavilion: Closed
  • Deep Creek Pavilion: Closed
  • Collins Creek Pavilion: Closed
  • AT Thru-Hiker Permits will not be issued.

All other trails and backcountry campsites not listed above are open with reduced capacity limits.

The following roads remained closed on May 9, but are open for pedestrians and cyclists:

  • Clingmans Dome Road, Elkmont Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Tremont Road, Greenbrier Road, Cosby Road, Big Creek Road, Cataloochee Road, Abrams Creek Road, Forge Creek Road, Rich Mountain Road, Little Greenbrier Road, Balsam Mountain Road, Heintooga Round Bottom Road, Straight Fork Road

You can find more information about what’s open and closed on the National Park Service website.

Phase 2 of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopening

Clingmans Dome observation tower in the Smoky Mountains.The second phase of the reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park kicked off on Tuesday, May 19 with the opening of Clingmans Dome! Second Lady Karen Pence paid a visit to the Smokies to announce Phase 2 and reopen Clingmans Dome Road and Observation Tower. The rest of Phase 2 began on Saturday, May 23 with the opening of all trails in the park. This means Laurel Falls Trail, Alum Cave Trail and Chimney Tops Trail became open to the public. The following roads and sites also opened on May 23:

  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Big Creek Road
  • Big Creek Picnic Area
  • Cosby Road
  • Cosby Picnic Area
  • Greenbrier Road (To Ramsey Cascades Trailhead only)
  • Tremont Road

The following operations are now open as well:

  • Sugarlands Riding Stables
  • Cades Cove Riding Stables
  • Cades Cove Campstore
  • Smokemont Riding Stables
  • LeConte Lodge

The following roads remained closed during Phase 2:

  • Abrams Creek Road
  • Balsam Mountain Road
  • Cataloochee Road
  • Elkmont Road
  • Forge Creek Road
  • Heintooga Round Bottom Road
  • Highway 284
  • Little Greenbrier Road
  • Rich Mountain Road
  • Straight Fork Road
  • Twentymile Road

Visitor centers and campgrounds remained closed during Phase 2 up until June 8.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Safety Measures

Cades Cove road in the Smoky MountainsPark managers are working closely with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to ensure public and workspace safety, according the news release. New safety measures have been put into place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as areas reopen. Some of those safety measures include the following:

  • 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
  • Reduced group size limits

Park managers will be examining each facility function and service provided to ensure the operations comply with public health guidance.

Read the full announcement of the reopening on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Facebook below:

More National Park Updates Coming Soon

We’ll continue to update you on what’s open and closed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as information becomes available. In the meantime, learn more about the Smoky Mountains.

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