Smokies winter schedule

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has announced its winter season facility closings schedule. As cooler weather approaches and visitation decreases, various facilities will close, including 7 of the ten campgrounds, and operational hours for some visitor services will be reduced.

Through the month of November, the Sugarlands Visitor Center, two miles south of Gatlinburg, will open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Oconaluftee Visitor Center, two miles north of Cherokee, N.C., will serve visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Cades Cove Visitor Center located half way around the Cades Cove Loop Road will be opened daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The visitor center hours for the following winter months are posted on the Park’s Web site at www.nps.gov/grsm.

Several of the secondary roads will close. Balsam Mountain/Heintooga Roads will close Nov. 1, Parson Branch and Rich Mountain Roads will close Nov. 9, Roundbottom/Straight Fork will close Nov. 12, and Clingmans Dome and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trails will close Dec. 1. During the winter months, the Park’s two main roads, Newfound Gap (U.S. 441) and Little River, will remain open throughout the year, except for temporary closures for extreme winter weather conditions. The Gatlinburg Bypass, Cades Cove Loop Road, Cosby Road, Greenbrier Road, Upper Tremont, Forge Creek, Lakeview Drive, and Foothills Parkway will open and close as road conditions mandate.

For more information on winter weather road conditions, contact the park at 865-436-1200.

Two of the three major campgrounds will remain open all year. These year-round campgrounds are Cades Cove in Tennessee and Smokemont in North Carolina. They are on a self-registration basis with a reduced number of available sites. Elkmont Campground in Tennessee will remain open through the Thanksgiving weekend and will be closed on Dec. 1. Balsam Mountain campground is already closed for the season as are the six remaining self-registration campgrounds.

Seven picnic areas will remain open through the winter. They are Chimney Tops, Cades Cove, Cosby, Greenbrier, Metcalf Bottoms, Big Creek and Deep Creek.

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