Great Smoky Mountain National Park sets 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 10 campgrounds, and operational hours for some visitor services will be reduced.

Through the month of November, the Sugarlands Visitor Center, 2 miles south of Gatlinburg, will open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, 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 website, www.nps.gov/grsm.

Several of the secondary roads are scheduled to close as indicated:

Balsam Mountain/Heintooga Roads on Nov. 1, Roundbottom/Straight Fork on Nov. 16, Parson Branch and Rich Mountain Roads on Nov. 22, and Clingmans Dome and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail on 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 (East and West) will open and close as road and weather conditions mandate.

For more information on winter weather road conditions, contact the Park at 865-436-1200 (Then select option “2” and select “2” again to access road info).

Mt. LeConte Lodge will close for the season on Nov. 23.

Two of the three major campgrounds will remain open all year. These year-round campgrounds are Cades Cove and Smokemont in North

Carolina. Starting Nov. 1, they will be on a self-registration basis with a reduced number of available sites. Elkmont Campground will remain open through the Thanksgiving weekend and will close on Dec. 1.

Balsam Mountain campground is already closed for the season. The six remaining self-registration campgrounds at Cosby, Cataloochee, Deep Creek, Big Creek, Look Rock and Abrams Creek, will close on Nov. 1.

Cades Cove Campground Store will close on Dec. 22, but will reopen Dec. 26 through Jan. 2 to serve visitors during the holiday period. The store will also be closed on Thanksgiving Day. Vending machines at the store will remain in service throughout the winter.

Seven picnic areas will remain open through the winter: Chimney Tops, Cades Cove, Cosby, Greenbrier, Metcalf Bottoms, Big Creek, and Deep Creek. Picnic pavilions at Cosby, Greenbrier and Deep Creek will be open through the winter and can be reserved at www.recreation.gov. Picnic pavilions that will close on Nov. 1 include Twin Creeks, Collins Creek, and Metcalf Bottoms.

Smokemont Riding Stable is scheduled to close on Nov. 2. Sugarlands Riding Stable and Smoky Mountain Riding Stable will close on Nov. 29. Cades Cove Riding Stable will close on Dec. 22, but will reopen Dec. 26-Jan. 2. The Cades Cove Stable will also be closed on Thanksgiving Day. The closing dates are dependent on weather conditions.

All five horse camps -- Round Bottom, Tow String, Cataloochee, Big Creek, and Anthony Creek--are scheduled to close on Nov. 15.

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alisha66 writes:

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected land areas east of the Rocky Mountains. With over the 500000 acres of the forest, the Smoky Mountains contain an enormous variety of the plants and the animals. In terms of the biological diversity, a walk from mountain base to peak is often compared to the 2000 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail from the Georgia to Maine.
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