GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — One of the most popular destinations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will soon be the site of a prescribed burn that will span over 1,000 acres.

The National Park Service is planning to burn approximately 1,200 acres of fields in Cades Cove. Depending on weather conditions, operations could begin as soon as Friday, Nov. 3.

The loop road and historic structures will remain open for visitors, but delays and temporary closures may occur to ensure public safety. Fire managers ask that drivers reduce speed in work zones but refrain from stopping in the roadways.

Expect to see firefighters and equipment along Sparks Lane and Cades Cove Loop Road. Hyatt Lane and the road to the Primitive Baptist Church will be closed during prescribed burn operations. 

Drivers should roll up windows and turn on headlights if smoke is present.

If conditions are not suitable for a controlled burn, officials will continue to monitor conditions to identify another burn window this fall or winter. The park service was unable to complete all burns planned last year in Cades Cove due to weather conditions..

Specific areas to be burned

  • Primitive Baptist (338 acres)
  • Cemetery Marsh (291 acres)
  • Increase Fields (272 acres)
  • Methodist (85 acres)
  • Old Field (85 acres)
  • Upper Tater (31 acres)
  • Martha’s Branch (17 acres)

Planned burns help to safely reduce fuels, restore meadow habitats and maintain the historic landscape of Cades Cove. According to the National Park Service, Cades Cove would experience natural succession to forest if not for the use of prescribed fires.