The entire Newfound Gap Road across Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopened today between Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Cherokee, North Carolina, a month ahead of schedule.
Opposition continues to mount in the counties surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park to backcountry fees the park instituted earlier this year.
The calendar may show it's spring, but you wouldn't know it by conditions across much of the country this week. Among the areas where winter just won't let go is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where a recent snowstorm will delay the planned spring opening of the road to Clingmans Dome.
Another county whose lands include Great Smoky Mountains National Park has gone on record opposing the park's fee for overnight backcountry use.
Three front-country campgrounds at Great Smoky Mountains National Park won't open this year due to the budget cuts brought on by the federal government's inability to resolve taxing and spending differences.
Traveler's View: Congress, National Park Service Need To Restructure Fees For Centennial Celebration
"Mountaineers are always free" is West Virginia's state motto, but that sentiment is getting harder and harder to find in the National Park System, where an imbalance in fee structures charges you for sleeping on the bare ground but not for burning gas as you negotiate the 11-mile loop of Cades Cove.
What authority does the National Park Service have to charge access fees in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and, presumably, other national parks? That question is the focus of a lawsuit filed in a bid to overturn the Smokies' move to charge backcountry users.
Spring break is commencing at colleges around the country, and for more than 200 students that means a trip not to the beach, but to a national park to participate either in the National Park Service Academy or an "Alternative Spring Break" program in parks.