Nashville, TN – Tennessee travelers, we’re happy to announce the gates of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopen Wednesday, October 16th to visitors. All attractions, campgrounds, visitor centers and facilities will be open.
Fall is a peak season for the Smokies along with our gateway towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Townsend. Let us help you plan your trip today. Visit our Fall Foliage Report to see how the splendor of fall color is changing from Memphis to Bristol.In an agreement with the National Park Service, the state of Tennessee has issued a $240,400 tourism grant to Sevier County to fund 80 percent of the $300,500 needed to open and operate the country’s most visited park for five days.
Sevier and Blount Counties are funding the remaining amount. Sevier County has paid the NPS the full amount to operate the park for five days.
Unlike other large national parks, the Great Smoky Mountains National park is free for exploring and discovering. Known as the “People’s Park” since it was created by Congress nearly 80 years ago, there is no entrance fee to the park that features 521,454 acres, 384 miles of roads, 100,000 life-forms and 800 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails. Approximately 9.6 million people visited the national park in 2012.
The park will open at 12:00am EST on Wednesday, October 16th and remain open until 11:59pm EST on Sunday, October 20th, if the shutdown is not ended in that time.
The park was one of the federal sites and parks closed across the country as part of the partial federal government shutdown that began October 1st.
Here’s some news about other federal sites and attractions
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Greenville, TN, is closed.
Cherokee National Forest: The main roads through the forest are open, including the Cherohala Skyway. On both the north and south units of the forest, all gates that are open will remain open. All campsites and restrooms are closed.
Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area: All sites and facilities area are closed, although Highway 297 through the area is open.
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area: All sites and facilities are closed. The Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway running through the area is open for traffic.
National Civil War sites are closed, including Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Shiloh National Military Park, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park and Stones River National Battlefield.
Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge Areas: All offices and visitor centers are closed as well as boat ramps, roads, observation decks, hiking trails, fishing and hunting.
Natchez Trace Parkway: The parkway motor road remains open, but all restrooms, visitor centers, sites, campgrounds, etc. are closed. Law enforcement rangers remain on duty for protection of parkway resources and to ensure public safety. Visitors are reminded that they are not to enter a closed or barricaded area of the park.
Appalachian Trail: Though it remains accessible, the trail is officially closed. Volunteers from federal programs will not be on duty. Caution is urged when using any federal trail during the shutdown as there will be no one maintaining them.
The Ocoee River is open for rafting, because it is privately owned and managed. The excursion train in Etowah is open.