GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park began the first phase of it’s gradual reopening on Saturday. Visitors from all over the country flocked to the park for a change of scenery.
Phase one includes the reopening of Newfound Gap, Little River, Cherokee Orchard, Laurel Creek, Cades Cove Loop, Lakeview Drive, and Deep Creek roads. Restrooms and picnic areas along the roads will be open as well.
Phase one is expected to last at least two weeks. During this time, visitor centers and campgrounds will remain closed. Special park use permits will be limited to 10 people at outdoor locations for up to 30 minutes. The National Park Service also released a video highlighting safe social distancing practices to follow while in the park.
Trailheads that are closed include Laurel Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Clingmans Dome Tower. Appalachian Trail thru-hiker permits will not be issued for the Deep Creek Road area.
Other opening dates include:
- LeConte Lodge and Cades Cove Riding Stables on May 18
- Cades Cove Campstore and Smokemont Riding Stables on May 23