The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States! It has some of the best hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing you'll find in the U.S. We're sharing the inside scoop with you so you can plan your next trip to the Smokies.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopening Details
- August 28, 2020
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park began reopening May 9! The reopening of the park will happen in phases, and the first phase lasted for 2 weeks. The first phase included the opening of many of the roads and trails in the park. The second phase kicked off on May 19, and more things slowly have been reopening. On Sept. 3, even more areas in the park reopened! We’ve got all the details on the reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
Sept. 3 Reopening Updates
On Tuesday, Sept. 3, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened more campgrounds, picnic areas and horse camps! These openings come just in time for Labor Day weekend! The following areas are open to the public as of Sept. 3:
- Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee and Cosby Campgrounds
- Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom and Tow String Horse Camps
- Heintooga and Look Rock Picnic Areas
- Little Greenbrier Road
Appalachian Clubhouse will remain closed, as well as Upper Greenbrier Road and Upper Cataloochee Valley Road beyond Palmer Chapel. The Greenbrier Road closure prevents access to the Greenbrier picnic pavilion, the Porters Creek Trail and Brushy Mountain Trail.
All park trails, backcountry campsites and shelters, visitor centers and restrooms in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are now open.
Keep in mind that reservations must be made in advance for Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Anthony Creek, Round Bottom and Tow String campsites and horse camps. Reservations are strongly encouraged but not required at Cades Cove, Elkmont and Smokemont campgrounds.
June 8th Reopening Updates
On June 8, more areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopened! These areas included some campgrounds, visitor centers and more roads. Here is a list of what opened on June 8:
- 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
- Rich Mountain Road
- Abrams Creek Road
- Cataloochee Road (to Palmer Chapel only)
- Forge Creek Road
The park opened more areas on June 15, including Elkmont Campground, Elkmont Road and Spence Cabin.
New measures to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff are being implemented as well. These safety measures include the following:
- Capacity limits at visitor centers
- Social distancing floor decal reminders
- Protective barriers between staff members and visitors
- Closure of theater and museum spaces in visitor centers
- Online reservations only for campgrounds
- Restroom facilities disinfected and cleaned appropriately
You can find more details on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopening below!
Phase 1 of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopening
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced that its reopening will happen in phases. The first phase started on May 9 and included the opening of many roads and trails within the park. Campgrounds, visitor centers and many secondary roads remained closed during this phase, which lasted about 2 weeks. Here is a list of what opened and remained closed in the first phase:
- Newfound Gap Road: Open
- Sugarlands Visitor Center Restroom: Open
- Chimney Tops Picnic Area: Open
- Laurel Falls Trail: Closed
- Gatlinburg Bypass: Open
- Newfound Gap Restroom: Open
- Alum Cave Trail: Closed
- Little River Road: Open
- Cades Cove Picnic Area: Open
- Chimney Tops Trail: Closed
- Wear Cove Road: Open
- Cades Cove Cable Mill Restroom: Open
- Clingmans Dome Observation Tower: Closed
- Laurel Creek Road: Open
- Abrams Falls Trailhead Restroom: Open
- Cades Cove Loop Road: Open
- Rainbow Falls Trailhead Restroom: Open
- Cherokee Orchard Road: Open
- Metcalf Bottoms Pavilion: Closed
- Deep Creek Pavilion: Closed
- Collins Creek Pavilion: Closed
- AT Thru-Hiker Permits will not be issued.
All other trails and backcountry campsites not listed above opened on May 9 with reduced capacity limits.
The following roads remained closed on May 9, but were open for pedestrians and cyclists:
- Clingmans Dome Road, Elkmont Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Tremont Road, Greenbrier Road, Cosby Road, Big Creek Road, Cataloochee Road, Abrams Creek Road, Forge Creek Road, Rich Mountain Road, Little Greenbrier Road, Balsam Mountain Road, Heintooga Round Bottom Road, Straight Fork Road
Phase 2 of the Park’s Reopening
On May 19, Second Lady Karen Pence visited the Smoky Mountains to announce Phase 2 of the park’s reopening plan. During Pence’s visit, Clingmans Dome Road and Clingmans Dome Observation Tower officially opened to the public. The rest of Phase 2 began on May 23, when all the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened. The following roads and sites in the park opened May 23 as well:
- Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
- Big Creek Road
- Big Creek Picnic Area
- Cosby Road
- Cosby Picnic Area
- Greenbrier Road (to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead only)
- Tremont Road
Sugarlands Riding Stables, Cades Cove Riding Stables, Cades Cove Campstore, Smokemont Riding Stables and LeConte Lodge are open for visitors to enjoy as well.
For the most up-to-date information of what is open and closed in the Smoky Mountains, visit the National Park Service’s website.
What Safety Measures Are Put in Place?
Park managers are working closely with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to ensure public and workspace safety. Here are some of the new safety measures that are put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the reopening:
- Disinfectant fogging operations for restrooms and public buildings
- Installation of plexiglass shields at visitor centers
- Personal protective equipment requirements for maintenance workers
- New safety protocols for emergency services staff
- Reduced group size limits
We are excited that everyone can enjoy the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park once again! We’ll update you when more information is available about the reopening phases. In the meantime, read our blog, “Top 10 Things to Know About the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Before You Go.”