Great Smoky Mountains National Park has altered the facility opening dates for many park facilities for the 2013 season.
Park Changes Opening Dates
The delayed openings are a direct result of staffing and hiring limitations which impacted the Park’s ability to conduct preseason preparation work on its facilities. Because of the five percent budget reduction that is in place, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closing three campgrounds, two picnic areas, one horse camp, and associated access roads, for the 2013 season.
Facilities to remain closed in 2013 include: the Look Rock Campground and Picnic Area and the Abrams Creek Campground in Tennessee; the Balsam Mountain Campground and Picnic Area (including the associated Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain Roads) and the Tow String Horse Camp in North Carolina.
“We regret this will cause inconvenience to park visitors,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, “Especially those who have enjoyed these more remote areas of the Smokies year after year. We have focused our workforce to maximize the utilization of facilities throughout the remainder of the park in order to serve and provide recreational opportunities for our millions of park visitors.”
The schedule follows:
Roads – Secondary Roads are scheduled as follows: Round Bottom/Straight Fork Rd. will open April 1; Parsons Branch and Rich Mountain Rd. will both open on April 5; Roaring Fork Nature Trail and Little Greenbrier are set to open April 12. Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain Rd, will be closed for the season.
Clingmans Dome Road has been open dependent on weather conditions since Feb. 15, but will be officially open for the summer season March 29.
Operating Hours for Visitor Centers – The three visitor centers are open daily and the operating hours through March are as follows: Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, hours will be 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.