Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, 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.
Beginning on Thursday, Sept. 3, the following additional areas will be accessible:
- Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee, and Cosby Campgrounds
- Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom, and Tow String Horse Camps
- Heintooga and Look Rock Picnic Areas
- Little Greenbrier Road
In addition, the following spaces continue to be available:
- All park trails, 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
With public health in mind, the following facility remains closed:
- Appalachian Clubhouse
Due to storm damage, the following facilities remain closed:
- Upper Greenbrier Road (preventing access to Greenbrier Picnic Pavilion, Porters Creek Trail, and Brushy Mountain Trail)
- Upper Cataloochee Valley Road, beyond Palmer Chapel
All campsites must be reserved online before arriving in the park for the following campgrounds and horse camps: 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 at these locations: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont. Group campsites at all campgrounds will remain closed.
“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. A safe and enjoyable park experience begins at home. 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. We ask the public to be our 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.
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 GRSM_Smokies_Information@nps.gov. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
– National Park Service release