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You may want to visit one of the three Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor centers for information and maps the Spring 2013 operating hours are are open daily and the Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, will be open 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Some of the facilities and secondary roads of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park close for the winter season as precautionary for inclement weather and for scheduling upkeep. With spring time here we can start enjoying more areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park once again. Clingmans Dome Road, Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road, Parsons Branch, Rich Mountain Road, Roaring Fork Nature Trail and Little Greenbrier are officially open for the summer season.
Backcountry reservations and permits can be obtained online or at the office located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, during their operating hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park developed campgrounds of Cataloochee, Elkmont, Cades Cove, Smokemont, and some sites at Cosby are on the reservation system for at least a portion of their seasons. With many holidays and popular weekends often being full it is a good idea to make reservations early up to 6 months in advance. If you are traveling with a group or have stayed before and want a particular site you will be pleased that the system allows you to reserve specific campsites.
Starting April 12-May 15 campgrounds will begin opening for the summer season through October. Schedule ahead for Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont for the period from May 15-October 31; reservations are required. Reservations are not just for campsites though, you can plan out your trip with reservations up to 12 months in advance horse camps, and picnic shelters, group campsites and picnic pavilions. A few facilities and associated roads will be remaining closed in 2013 due to budget cuts.