So you have planned your entire visit to the Smokies: rented your luxury cabin in Gatlinburg, programmed your GPS to reach your destination, and made plans to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to view the changing fall colors of the season. Congress has decided to close the National Park system, so now what? This is not a diatribe on the adversity that this shutdown creates for so many, but rather an encouragement to go through with your vacation plans to visit the area, but to slightly alter your activities. Disappointing? Yes, but certainly not a deal breaker to just stay home. Here’s why.
What’s open? Although many trailheads and the famous Cades Cove are currently closed, it is possible to drive through the Smokies and enjoy the foliage. The Spur from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg, Newfound Gap Road from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, North Carolina, along with the Newfound Gap parking area, and the Gatlinburg Bypass road all remain open. Accessing and driving through the park is still possible, and easily accomplished.
What’s closed? Visitor centers, restrooms, picnic areas, campgrounds and trail heads are all currently temporarily closed. So think of visiting with a lack of conveniences available, sort of more wilderness at your own risk. The beauty of the Smokies in October is breathtaking. Your viewpoint may not be from the identical spot you desire to visit, but the natural wonders of our area do not stop and start at the Park boundary lines.
Oh, and Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are all completely open for business. We at Volunteer Cabin Rentals in Wears Valley will do all we can to suggest alternate options for you to enjoy while these closures are in effect. Please come. You will not regret your choice.
UPDATE: Due to special local funding, the GSMNP is open October 16-20. Past that remains to be seen.