Residents in the furthest west counties may see smoke over the coming months as the Cherokee National Forest carries out prescribed burns on an estimated 18,500 acres in Monroe and Polk counties, Tennessee, which abut Graham and Cherokee counties in North Carolina.
Eight miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Craggy Gardens is closed after multiple visitors were reported feeding and attempting to hold a young bear in recent weeks at Lane Pinnacle Overlook.
Most people come to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for its scenic vistas, waterfalls and wildlife — seeking an escape to the great outdoors.
Much of the western region is now in drought, with severe drought entering the state for the first time since November 2022. This is now the third consecutive fall in which parts of Western North Carolina have reached the “severe drought” designation.