horses in Cades Cove

Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Opened May 9

cades cove mountains
May 5, 2020

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened to the public on May 9, and that included Cades Cove! We’re happy to have welcomed so many visitors back to this special area. The park will continue to open in phases. The first phase included most trails and main roads, and the second phase includes more secondary roads, all trails and other sites. We’ve got all the information on what’s open in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the first and second phases!

What’s Open in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Cades Cove Visitor CenterOn Monday, June 8, more areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopened! These areas included some campgrounds, visitor centers and secondary roads. Here is a list of what opened on June 8:

  • Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds
  • Anthony Creek Horse Camp
  • Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, Cades Cove, and Clingmans Dome Visitor Centers and Great Smoky Mountains Association Bookstores
  • Backcountry Information Office at Sugarlands Visitor Center
  • Cable Mill and Mingus Mill
  • Rich Mountain Road
  • Abrams Creek Road
  • Cataloochee Road (to Palmer Chapel only)
  • Forge Creek Road

A week later, on June 15th, the park opened more areas, including Elkmont Campground, Elkmont Road and Spence Cabin.

With these new openings comes new measures to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff. These safety measures include the following:

  • Capacity limits at visitor centers
  • Social distancing floor decal reminders
  • Protective barriers between staff members and visitors
  • Closure of theater and museum spaces in visitor centers
  • Online reservations only for campgrounds
  • Restroom facilities disinfected and cleaned appropriately

Now, a majority of popular areas in the Smoky Mountains are open! The list above adds on to all the trails and roads that opened in previous phases. You can find more details on what’s open and closed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park below.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park First Reopening Phase

great smoky mountains national park signThe first phase of reopening the national park included most trails and roads within the park. Campgrounds and visitor centers remained closed during this phase, which was expected to last at least two weeks. Cades Cove, including the loop road, the Cades Cove picnic area, and the Cades Cove Cable Mill restroom all opened on May 9. See more of what was opened and closed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the first phase:

  • Newfound Gap Road: Open
  • Sugarlands Visitor Center Restroom: Open
  • Chimney Tops Picnic Area: Open
  • Laurel Falls Trail: Closed
  • Gatlinburg Bypass: Open
  • Newfound Gap Restroom: Open
  • Alum Cave Trail: Closed
  • Little River Road: Open
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center Restroom: Open
  • Cades Cove Picnic Area: Open
  • Chimney Tops Trail: Closed
  • Wear Cove Road: Open
  • Cades Cove Cable Mill Restroom: Open
  • Clingmans Dome Observation Tower: Closed
  • Laurel Creek Road: Open
  • Abrams Falls Trailhead Restroom: Open
  • Cades Cove Loop Road: Open
  • Rainbow Falls Trailhead Restroom: Open
  • Cherokee Orchard Road: Open
  • Metcalf Bottoms Pavilion: Closed
  • Deep Creek Pavilion: Closed
  • Collins Creek Pavilion: Closed
  • AT Thru-Hiker Permits will not be issued.

Trails and backcountry campsites that are not listed above opened May 9 with reduced capacity limits.

The following roads remained closed on May 9, but were open for pedestrians and cyclists:

  • Clingmans Dome Road, Elkmont Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Tremont Road, Greenbrier Road, Cosby Road, Big Creek Road, Cataloochee Road, Abrams Creek Road, Forge Creek Road, Rich Mountain Road, Little Greenbrier Road, Balsam Mountain Road, Heintooga Round Bottom Road, Straight Fork Road

Phase 2

clingmans dome observation towerPhase 2 began with the opening of Clingmans Dome Road and Clingmans Dome Observation Tower on May 19. Both are now open to the public. On May 23, all trails in the park opened to the public. This means you can enjoy Laurel Falls Trail, Alum Cove Trail and Chimney Tops Trail, all of which were closed in Phase 1. The following roads and sites also opened on May 23:

  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Big Creek Road
  • Big Creek Picnic Area
  • Cosby Road
  • Cosby Picnic Area
  • Greenbrier Road (to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead only)
  • Tremont Road

Sugarlands Riding Stables, Cades Cove Riding Stables, Cades Cove Campstore, Smokemont Riding Stables and LeConte Lodge are open as well. Visitor centers and campgrounds will stay closed.

The following roads remained closed during Phase 2:

  • Abrams Creek Road
  • Balsam Mountain Road
  • Cataloochee Road
  • Elkmont Road
  • Forge Creek Road
  • Heintooga Round Bottom Road
  • Highway 284
  • Little Greenbrier Road
  • Rich Mountain Road
  • Straight Fork Road
  • Twentymile Road

For more information on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopening, visit the National Park Service website.

What Safety Measures Are Put in Place?

view of open field in Cades CoveThe Great Smoky Mountains National Park is working hard to make sure the proper safety measures are taken as parts of the park continue to reopen. Park rangers are working closely with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure public and workspace safety. The following safety measures have been put in place:

  • Installation of plexiglass shields at visitor centers
  • New safety protocols for emergency services staff
  • Reduced group size limits
  • Disinfectant fogging operations for restrooms and public buildings
  • Personal protective equipment requirements for maintenance workers

Why It’s a Great Time to Drive the Cades Cove Loop Road

We’re so excited that Cades Cove is back open! Taking a scenic drive along the Cades Cove Loop Road is a great opportunity to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while still social distancing. Take in the gorgeous mountain views, wildlife and historic structures from the comfort of your car! Some animals you have the chance to see are black bears, white-tailed deer and wild turkey. Enjoying the scenery from your car makes it easy to explore and practice health and safety measures at the same time.

When you’re ready to come visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, come take a drive through Cades Cove and experience everything it has to offer. To learn more about what to expect in Cades Cove, read our blog, “Top Things to Keep Your Eyes Out for Along the Cades Cove Loop.”

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