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Smokies visitor centers, some campgrounds opening back up Monday

Some campgrounds and roads also will return to public use.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitors centers will open back up Monday, the park announced Friday.

Some campgrounds and roads also will return to public use.

Facilities have been shut down because of coronvavirus concerns. Park administrators have been slowly allowing the public to use various facilities.

Here's what will open Monday:

  • Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds
  • Anthony Creek Horse Camp
  • Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, Cades Cove, and Clingmans Dome Visitor Centers and Great Smoky Mountains Association Bookstores
  • Backcountry Information Office at Sugarlands Visitor Center
  • Cable Mill and Mingus Mill
  • Abrams Creek Road
  • Cataloochee Road (to Palmer Chapel only due to road washout)
  • Forge Creek Road
  • Rich Mountain Road

Beginning on Monday, June 15, the following areas will be accessible:

  • Elkmont Road
  • Elkmont Campground
  • Spence Cabin

Park officials stress visitors will need to practice social distancing and use common sense to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19.

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"Park officials continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers," according to a statement Friday.

Patrons at visitors center will notice visual cues to practice social distancing such as floor markers to keep their distance while waiting in lines.

"The park has developed a range of mitigation to support these additional services including installation of protective barriers between staff and visitors; capacity limits for visitor centers; installation of social distancing floor decal reminders; and closure of theater and museum spaces in visitor centers. At campgrounds, services are limited to online reservations only; restroom facilities are appropriately disinfected and cleaned; and group campsites remain closed. While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased."

To ensure your experience is a good one, park managers advise you think about going early in the morning to avoid crowds. Stay in your vehicles while looking at wildlife.

And, as always, put plenty of space between you and any bears you may see.

The 520,000-acre park is the most visited in the national system.

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