Parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that have been closed since last week's wildfires will officially reopen to the public on Friday, as Gatlinburg also allows visitors to return.
Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, and several visitor areas have been closed since the evening of Monday, November 28 due to the Chimney Tops 2 wildfire.
“The past eleven days have been the most challenging and emotional days our community has likely ever had to endure,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The amount of love, strength, and support offered to our community has been inspirational not only to us, but also to those watching from across the world. Our community has shone brightly in the midst of this disaster and proven that we are truly mountain tough.”
Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, the Gatlinburg Bypass, and the Spur will reopen at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, December 9. Park visitor centers at Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove will resume their regularly scheduled operating hours.
Some areas will still remain closed due to wind or fire damage.
Cherokee Orchard Road will not reopen at this time.
The following trails are still closed: Chimney Tops Trail, Road Prong Trail, Sugarland Mountain Trail from Mt Collins Shelter to Little River Road, Huskey Gap Trail, Rough Creek Trail, Old Sugarlands Trail, Twin Creeks Trail, Baskins Creek Trail, Bull Head Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail from Campsite 32 to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Gatlinburg Trail, Cove Mountain Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail, Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, the Sugarlands Horse Concession trails, and the quiet walkways along Newfound Gap Road.
"The safety of our visitors is our primary concern and we ask that everyone explore only areas of the park that remain open and abide by trail closures," according to a press release. "Visitors are required to remain in their vehicles when passing through the burned areas and should not enter any burned areas by foot. Visitors are reminded that though the area has received heavy rains in recent days, firefighters are still actively establishing containment lines to ensure the fire is fully extinguished."
Several upcoming park events have been postponed or canceled. The Festival of Christmas Past, scheduled for December 10, has been canceled. The Hike 100 Centennial Challenge celebration, scheduled for December 9 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, has been postponed. The Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Mountain Farm will take place as planned on December 17. Details regarding each of these events will be released to the public as soon as they become available.
For more information on temporary road and trail closures, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.