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GSMNP finds funds to reopen some areas of Park

(GSMNP press release) Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced over the weekend that some recently closed areas of the park due to the ongoing partial government shutdown will once again be accessible to visitors beginning Sunday, January 13. Some basic visitor services, including campgrounds and restrooms, will reopen using revenue generated by recreation fees. 

Areas that have been recently closed but that will be accessible to park visitors in the near future include: 

• Cades Cove Campground and Picnic Area, including restrooms.

• Restrooms at the Smokemont Campground.

• Restrooms at the Deep Creek Picnic Area.

• Little River Road between Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and the Townsend Wye.

• Foothills Parkway East.

National Park Service officials have determined that by using Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement Act funds to immediately bring back park maintenance crews to maintain roads and some basic services, the park will be able to restore accessibility to the park for visitors while ensuring health and safety. Maintenance crews will reopen and maintain the restrooms listed above in addition to continuing to clean the restrooms that were temporarily reopened last week at Newfound Gap and the Cades Cove Visitor Center by the Friends of the Smokies. Most park facilities will remain closed including Sugarlands and Oconaluftee Visitor Centers. Great Smoky Mountains Association is donating services to reopen the Cades Cove Visitor Center near Cable Mill. Trash removal from dumpsters across the park will continue through a preexisting contract.

“We greatly appreciate the generous contributions of park partners who have provided funding to staff visitor centers over the holidays and keep bathrooms at Newfound Gap and Cable Mill open during the lapse in appropriations,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Their efforts have contributed significantly to our ability to restore access and basic services to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

Roads and trails that are seasonally open will be maintained and remain accessible to visitors on a prioritized basis. Road crews will plow roads, remove downed trees, and clear small landslides along heavily used roadways including the Spur, Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, and the Cades Cove Loop Road. These operational efforts will be performed with reduced staffing using revenues from recreation fees. Road closures due to weather events may result in significantly longer closures than normal, and some remote, lesser used roads may remain closed until a return of full staffing.  

The park website will remain accessible, but it will not be updated with any current information. Park social media accounts will continue to 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

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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