GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Due to the forecast of severe weather, dangerously high winds, and a red flag warning, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has closed Elkmont and Cades Cove campgrounds.

Many park roads were also closed to ensure the safety of visitors, employees, and park resources. The campground closures were effective immediately on Monday. On Tuesday at 5 p.m., the park announced that the Elkmont and Cades Cove campgrounds had reopened.

Newfound Gap, highway 441 from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Smokemont Campground, closed around 1 p.m. on Monday. They are set to reopen at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The following roads have also reopened:

  • Little River Road
  • Laurel Creek Road
  • Cades Cove Loop Road
  • Cherokee Orchard Road
  • Foothills Parkway West

Gatlinburg Bypass, Foothills Parkway West (from Look Rock to Highway 129), and other park roads remained open. The Spur will stay open as long as safe vehicle passage exists.

The park added that visitors should be aware of hazards including including wet roads, fog and the potential for snowfall and freezing temperatures at higher elevations. Hikers were also told to keep an eye out for downed trees and limbs.

“Employee and visitor safety is our only priority,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We understand these closures are an inconvenience, but we are trying to eliminate as much risk as possible during this dangerous weather event.”

Winds were expected to grow stronger overnight Monday into Tuesday, with sustained winds at 40 mph and hurricane-force gusts. A red flag warning was in effect for the Smokies, which means there was an increased risk of fire danger due to very low humidity and stronger winds.

A burn ban is currently in place in the park, prohibiting all campfires and charcoal use until further notice. Visitors are advised to exercise extreme caution and check the WATE 6 Weather Forecast for alerts and warnings when making travel plans.