In advance of severe weather, dangerously high winds, and a red flag warning, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will close Elkmont and Cades Cove campgrounds and most park roads to protect visitors, employees and park resources.
“Employee and visitor safety is our only priority,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We understand these closures are an inconvenience, but we are trying to eliminate as much risk as possible during this dangerous weather event.”
The campground closures go into effect immediately. Park rangers will notify campers already in the campgrounds of the closure.
Park rangers will start closing roads by early afternoon and encourage visitors currently in the park to leave as soon as possible. Newfound Gap (Highway 441 from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Smokemont Campground) will close around 1 p.m. today. The following roads are already closed or will close later this afternoon:
- Clingmans Dome Road.
- Cherokee Orchard Road and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
- Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley.
- Little River Road between the Townsend Wye to Sugarlands Visitor Center.
- Laurel Creek Road and Cades Cove Loop Road.
- Cataloochee Road.
- Lakeview Drive.
Gatlinburg Bypass, Foothills Parkway West (from Look Rock to Highway 129), and other park roads will remain open as long as safely possible. The Spur will remain open as long as safe vehicle passage exists.
Winds will grow stronger this afternoon and overnight with sustained winds at 40 mph and hurricane-force gusts. A red flag warning is in effect for the Smokies, which means very low humidity’s and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger. A burn ban is currently in place in the park, which prohibits all campfires and charcoal use until further notice.
Visitors should exercise extreme caution, check the park website for alerts and heed warnings from the National Weather Service and local emergency managers when making travel plans. Hikers should avoid hiking during the high wind warning.
Campgrounds, facilities and roads will remain closed until the high wind and red flag warnings have expired and park rangers can assess roads and facilities. The National Park Service will issue an afternoon update on Tuesday, November 21 on the status of campgrounds and roads in the park.