In eastern Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—it is the USA’s most visited national park—officially reopened to the public on Friday, Dec. 9 in conjunction with the reopening of the city of Gatlinburg following an 11-day closure brought on by the deadly and devastating Chimney Tops 2 Fire that wreaked havoc on Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, and several visitor areas had been closed since the evening of Monday, November 28 due to the Chimney Tops 2 wildfire.
The fire, whipped up by hurricane force winds, wreaked deadly havoc on the region, killing 14 people and destroying more than 1,750 buildings.
“The past eleven days have been the most challenging and emotional days our community has likely ever had to endure,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The amount of love, strength, and support offered to our community has been inspirational not only to us, but also to those watching from across the world. Our community has shone brightly in the midst of this disaster and proven that we are truly mountain tough.”
The following trails are closed due to wind or fire damage: Chimney Tops Trail, Road Prong Trail, Sugarland Mountain Trail from Mt Collins Shelter to Little River Road, Huskey Gap Trail, Rough Creek Trail, Old Sugarlands Trail, Twin Creeks Trail, Baskins Creek Trail, Bull Head Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail from Campsite 32 to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Gatlinburg Trail, Cove Mountain Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail, Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, the Sugarlands Horse Concession trails, and the quiet walkways along Newfound Gap Road.
The safety of our visitors is our primary concern and we ask that everyone explore only areas of the park that remain open and abide by trail closures. Visitors are required to remain in their vehicles when passing through the burned areas and should not enter any burned areas by foot. Visitors are reminded that though the area has received heavy rains in recent days, firefighters are still actively establishing containment lines to ensure the fire is fully extinguished.
Motorists are reminded to carefully travel along the roadways and to allow crews safe work space. Public Information Officers will be on site near the Gatlinburg entrance of the park and at overlooks along Newfound Gap Road to answer questions regarding the fire.
While several park events were postponed or cancelled, the Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Mountain Farm will take place as planned on December 17.
For more information on temporary road and trail closures, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.