Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces spring opening schedule

News
CCcampsite5_86530

GATLINBURG (WATE) – Officials with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have announced their spring opening schedule for the 2015 season.

Campgrounds and secondary roads began opening on Friday. The opening schedule is as follows:Secondary Roads:

  • Forge Creek Road – March 6
  • Clingmans Dome Road – April 1
  • Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road – April 3
  • Parson Branch, Rich Mountain Road and Little Greenbrier – April 10
  • Roaring Fork Nature Trail – May 1 (pending completion of bridge replacement project)
  • Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain – May 22

Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed for bicycle use only on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 a.m. from May 6 through September 23.

The three visitor centers will be open daily. Operating hours through March:

  • Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Cades Cove Visitor Center near Townsend – 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, N.C. – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Operating hours for each visitor center will extend as the season progresses. Clingmans Done Visitor Information Center opens April 1.

The Backcountry Office at Sugarlands Visitor Center is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations and permits can be obtained online at www.smokiespermits.nps.gov or by calling (865) 436-1297.

Campgrounds are open on a staggered schedule beginning March 13. Reservations are recommended at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont for the period from May 15-October 31 (for other dates, the three campgrounds are first come, first serve). Advance reservations are required at Cataloochee Campground throughout the entire season. Cosby Campground, which has mostly first-come, first-served campsites, has a limited number of reservable sites during its season. Camping fees range from $14 to $23 per site per night.Tennessee Campground Schedule:

CampgroundFeeOpenGroup SitesHorse Camp ($20, $25)
Abrams Creek$14May 22N/A
Anthony CreekApril 1
Cades Cove$17, $20, $23Year-roundMarch 13
Cosby$14April 10April 10
Elkmont$17, $20, $23March 13April 24
Look RockClosed

North Carolina Campground Schedule:

CampgroundFeeOpenGroup SitesHorse Camp ($20, $25)
Balsam Mountain$14May 22N/A
Big Creek$14April 10April 10April 10
Cataloochee$20April 3April 3April 3
Deep Creek$17April 10April 10
Round BottomApril 3
Smokemont$17, $20Year-roundMay 15
Tow StringApril 3

At Cades Cove, Elkmont and Smokemont, the cost is $20 per site during the reservation period of May 15 to October 31. At Elkmont, riverside sites are $23 during reservation period only.

Picnic Areas at Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms picnic areas are open year round. Chimneys picnic area will open on March 14 and Collins Creek picnic area will open on April 3. Big Creek and Cosby picnic areas will open shortly after on April 10. Heintooga picnic area will open on May 22. The opening of Look Rock picnic area is yet to be determined.

The park’s largest picnic pavilion at Twin Creeks opens on April 1 and reservations are required through Recreation.gov. Twin Creeks’ fees range from $35-$75 depending on the number of people. In addition, picnickers can reserve five other picnic pavilions on Recreation.gov. They are located at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Greenbrier picnic areas. The cost is $20, except at Greenbrier where it is $10.

The opening dates for the three horseback concessions located on the Tennessee side of the Park are: Smoky Mountain Riding Stable on March 1; Sugarlands Riding Stable on March 1; and Cades Cove on March 7. In addition to horseback rides, Cades Cove Riding Stable will offer their customary carriage rides and hay rides which are wheelchair accessible. The Smokemont Riding Stable in North Carolina will open March 28 providing guided horseback rides along with horse-drawn wagon rides along the route of the historic Oconaluftee Turnpike.

LeConte Lodge, accessible only by trail, will open on March 23. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 865-429-5704, fax 865-774-0045 or email: reservations@lecontelodge.com. One night at the lodge costs $136 per adult and $85 for children 10 and under (tax not included). The price includes two meals–dinner and breakfast. Day hikers and backpackers can purchase a prepared bag lunch and snacks/beverages at the lodge. Please note that Alum Cave Trail will be closed Monday through Thursday beginning on May 3 through November 19 for trail restoration. Hikers will need to choose one of the other five trails to reach LeConte Lodge on those days.

The Cades Cove Campground Store has been open since March 13. The store provides groceries, camping supplies, firewood, ice, vending, limited food service, souvenirs, and bike rentals. The Cades Cove Store has multi-speed comfort bikes, single speed cruisers, and electric assist bikes for rent. The Elkmont Campground concession opens on March 13. The concession provides firewood, ice, limited camper convenience items, and vending of soft drinks, newspapers, and snacks.

For more information on park events, please visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/calendar.htm.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter