Smokies announce winter closings



From staff reports
Originally published: October 28. 2009 3:01AM
Last modified: October 27. 2009 11:23PM



The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has announced its winter season closings schedule.
As cooler weather approaches and visitation decreases, various facilities will close, including seven of the 10 campgrounds, and operational hours for some visitor services will be reduced.

Visitor Centers: 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 halfway around the Cades Cove Loop Road will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.




Roads: Several secondary roads will close as indicated: Balsam Mountain/Heintooga Roads on Nov. 1, Parson Branch and Rich Mountain Roads on Nov. 16, Roundbottom/Straight Fork on Nov. 10, 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 conditions mandate.

Lodging: LeConte Lodge will accommodate guests until Nov. 24 when it will close for the season.

Camping: 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 in Tennessee 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 will close on Nov. 1.

Cades Cove Campground Store will close on Dec. 21, but will reopen Dec. 26 to Jan. 3, 2010, to serve visitors during the holiday period. 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. 30. Cades Cove Riding Stable will close on Dec. 21, but will reopen Dec. 26 to Jan. 3. 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 9.