Phase reopening starts in the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened most trails and roads when it entered its first phase of reopening last weekend, but some areas and facilities remain closed. 

Smokies to partially reopen May 9

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park plans to reopen many of its roads and trails beginning Saturday, May 9. Campgrounds, picnic pavilions, visitor centers and many secondary roads will remain closed during the first reopening phase, which is expected to last for at least two weeks.

Public land managers discuss closure decisions and plans for re-opening

While people nationwide are lamenting the loss of bars, restaurants, concerts, festivals and countless other aspects of community life amid the COVID-19 crisis, for many in Western North Carolina the deepest blow has been the loss of access to hundreds of thousands of acres of cherished public lands. 

Synchronous firefly event canceled

The wildly popular synchronous firefly viewing event in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been canceled this year as efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 continue.

Pandemic presents budget challenge for Swain

County governments are in the midst of planning for their 2020-21 fiscal budgets that have to be approved by the end of June, but the COVID-19 Pandemic is going to throw a wrench in their ability to project revenues for the remainder of the year.

National parks, forests respond to COVID-19

Operations have shifted on public lands in Western North Carolina due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cades Cove reopens

Cades Cove has reopened following a two-month closure for repairs at Bote Mountain Tunnel.

The locked gate: Road closure decisions complex in the Smokies

Lisa Hendy is an early riser, and when it comes to dealing with snow days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that’s a good thing. 

As chief ranger, Hendy’s responsibilities are many — but one of them is deciding when, if and for how long to close the roads when the weather gets bad. 

Smokies shatters visitation records: Congestion issues prompt park to seek community input

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains logged a collective 3.7 million visits to park entrances in North Carolina west of Asheville last year, an 8.5 percent increase over 2018. 

The Smokies overall demolished visitation records, with preliminary numbers showing 12.55 million visits in 2019 — a 9.9 percent increase over the 11.42 million seen in 2018. Foothills Parkway West accounted for about 67.7 percent of the 1.3 million additional visitors after a new 16.5-mile section of the road opened in November 2018, making 2019 the first full year it was open. More than 1.5 million people drove on the 33-mile section that includes the new piece of road.

Smokies visitation tops 12 million

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw a record 12.55 million visits in 2019, an increase of 1.13 million over 2018, which was also a record-breaking year.

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