With November halfway gone, it should come as no surprise that winter is in the offing. And at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials have recognized the changing seasons by releasing their winter operating schedule.
As cooler weather approaches and visitation decreases, various facilities will close, including campgrounds and picnic areas, and operating hours for some visitor services will be reduced.
All dates listed below are subject to minor changes depending on weather conditions over the winter season.
Hours through December 1: Sugarlands Visitor Center, located 2 miles south of Gatlinburg, Tenn., and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, located 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina, will serve visitors from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Cades Cove Visitor Center, located halfway around the Cades Cove Loop Road, near Townsend, Tenn., will be opened daily from 9 a.m-5:30 p.m. Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station, located near the Clingmans Dome Parking Lot, will be open each day from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Hours after December 1: Sugarlands Visitor Center and Oconaluftee Visitor Center will be open daily from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Cades Cove Visitor Center will be open from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station will be closed.
Several of the secondary roads are scheduled to close as follows: The two-way segment of the Roundbottom/Straight Fork Road, just outside Cherokee, will close on November 12. Parson Branch and Rich Mountain Roads will close on November 18, and Clingmans Dome and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail on December 2.
During the winter months, the park’s two main roads, Newfound Gap (U.S. 441) and Little River, will remain open throughout the year, except for temporary closures for extreme winter weather conditions. The Gatlinburg Bypass, Cades Cove Loop Road, Cosby Road, Greenbrier Road, Upper Tremont, Forge Creek, Lakeview Drive, and Foothills Parkway (East and West) will open and close as road and weather conditions mandate.
For information about road conditions throughout the season, please visit the Park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm, call the park’s Road and Weather Information Line at 865-436-1200 and follow the prompts, or follow the park on Twitter at @SmokiesRoadsNPS.
LeConte Lodge will close for the season on November 26.
Two of the three major campgrounds will remain open all year. These year-round campgrounds are Cades Cove in Tennessee and Smokemont in North Carolina. Starting in November they will be on a self-registration basis with a reduced number of available sites.
Elkmont Campground in Tennessee will remain open through the Thanksgiving weekend and then close on December 1. The remaining self-registration campgrounds at Cosby, Cataloochee, Deep Creek, Big Creek, have already closed for the season.
Cades Cove Campground Store
Cades Cove Campground Store will continue to offer all services daily through December 1. From December 2 - January 5, the souvenir and ice cream area will be open on Saturday and Sunday only, weather permitting. The main store building will be closed after December 2. The public restrooms at the store will be open on the same schedule as the souvenir and ice cream area. Vending machines at the store will remain in service throughout the winter.
Four picnic areas will remain open through the winter: Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms.
Chimneys Picnic Area will be open until December 1. Picnic areas and pavilions that have already closed for the season include Big Creek, Collins Creek, Cosby, and Twin Creeks. Of these, the picnic pavilions at Greenbrier and Deep Creek can be reserved at www.recreation.gov.
Smokemont Riding Stables is closed for the season. Sugarlands Riding Stables and Smoky Mountain Riding Stables will close on December 1. Cades Cove Riding Stable will be open daily through December 1. From December 2 - January 5, Cades Cove Riding Stables will be open Saturday and Sunday only, weather permitting. All stables closing dates are dependent on weather conditions.