During the partial shutdown of the federal government due to the lapse of appropriations, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures. Roads and trails that are seasonally open will remain accessible to visitors, but emergency and rescue services will be limited. The Park will not be operating campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms, or providing trash collection services.
Great Smoky Mountains Association has entered into an agreement with the National Park Service to fund Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove visitor center operations and associated restroom facilities from Saturday, Dec. 22 through Tuesday, Jan 1. In addition, the concessionaire for the Cades Cove Campground Store, Tsiyahi, LLC, has entered into an agreement with the National Park Service to fund store operations and associated restroom facilities on Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 26-30. This holiday period is traditionally one of the busiest weeks in the park.
“We appreciate the ongoing support offered by those that visit, love, and care for Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “During this time period when there are no visitor services, it is imperative that people practice Leave No Trace principals to help us protect park resources over the duration of the shutdown.”
The Park will only be conducting snow and ice removal on three park roadways that are considered thoroughfares to local communities: Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg, Tenn. and Cherokee; the Spur between Gatlinburg, Tenn. and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.; and the Foothills Parkway West between Walland, Tenn. and Look Rock for the Top of the World community. Currently, there are several secondary roads closed due to snow and ice. When road conditions improve, these roadways will reopen, but crews will not be plowing them during the shutdown period. Additionally, these roads may close throughout the shutdown period, as needed, for visitor safety due to inclement weather including snow, ice, flooding, downed trees, or rock slides.
The Park website will remain accessible, but it will not be updated with any current information. Park social media accounts will be suspended during the shutdown period. Information and images from webcams, including the Newfound Gap webcam, will remain accessible at: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm. The webcams may become non-functional during the shutdown if the equipment requires maintenance.
During the winter, the Park normally operates campgrounds at Cades Cove and Smokemont. During the partial government shutdown, park staff will not provide maintenance, restrooms, check-in/check-out, or reservation services at these areas. Visitors to these campgrounds will not be asked to leave unless safety concerns or apparent resource damage require such action.
Visitors holding campground reservations should be aware that there is no guarantee their reserved campsite will be ready and available should they arrive during the government shutdown. In addition, the park cannot issue any new permits for backcountry camping.
For updates on the shutdown, please visit: www.doi.gov/shutdown.
– National Park Service release