Thursday, December 24, 2009

Newfound Gap Road and most GSMNP roads open.

Beside all of the snow and ice on the roads, tree limbs laden with snow, broke, uprooted or just bent under the weight creating road blockages and hazards in the Great Smoky Mountains national park. Hikers may encounter obstructions related to this storm in backcountry for months.

Newfound Gap Road, Laurel Creek Road, Little River Road and Cades Cove Loop Road all remain open however Old State Road 284, the Foothills Parkway East, the Cataloochee Entrance Road as well as Lake View Drive all remain closed to due ice, snow and some other storm related cleanup needed.

Current Road Closures and Openings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Newfound Gap Road Remains Open, Elkmont Too.

The Smokies are still digging themselves out from underneath a major snowstorm and more roads in the Great Smoky Mountains national park remain open including the Elkmont Campgrounds entrance road and Newfound Gap Road between Cherokee and Gatlinburg.

Additional good news for drivers is that the predicted snow for this week has been called off. With this warming trend roadways will continue to open.

Black ice has been forming so drivers need to be even more cautious at when temperatures drop at night especially along bridges and sooner in higher elevations.

Current Road Closures and Openings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Newfound Gap Road Now Open to Cars

Great Smoky Mountains national parks main through road Newfound Gap Road, has finally been opened back up by the park service. Drivers are cautioned that there is still ice and snow on the roadway and to drive with extreme caution.

Because the road surface is less than optimal, buses have been asked to stay off Newfound Gap Road at this time. Plunging temperatures tonight will refreeze and snow melt which may closes again if road conditions deteriorate any further.

Refreezing snow melt is particularly problem some on the Tennessee side above the Alum Cave Hiking Trail parking area in the last 1-1/2 below the gap which is more shaded and steep.

No other major roads in the park have reopened at this time but some are expected to open tomorrow.

Current Road Closures and Openings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cades Cove Loop Road is now open but many Great Smoky Mountains National Park roads remain closed

Drivers can take Little River Road from the intersection of Newfound Gap Road by Gatlinburg all the way to the Townsend Wye and then take Laurel Creek Road all the way to Cades Cove, which is now open to motorists.

Old State Road 284 remains closed and will so for days as crews intensify their efforts on Newfound Gap Road US 411 that remains closed at this time.

Drivers between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg can use both the Spur section of the Foothills Parkway as well as the Gatlinburg bypass, which has stunning views right now looking over the city of Gatlinburg with Mount Le Conte in the distance.

Both the Foothills Parkways East by Cosby and I-40 and the Foothills Parkway West starting at 321 in Walland remain closed at this time.

Current Road Closures and Openings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Road Conditions in Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Open and Closed Roads in the GSMNP

With more than 30 inches of snow recorded in some areas of the Great Smoky Mountains national park it will take some time before all the roads in the GSMNP will be open. Power outages and stranded motorists have strained local emergency services, which held up well to this record-breaking snowstorm in the Smokies.

While the Smokies can get snow often in the winter, it is often gone within hours or a most a few days. While local and backcountry roads can use salt to melt ice and snow, the national park service can only use sand. Runoff from salt would disturb the delicate chemical balance in the waterways of the Great Smoky Mountains national park so salting roads in the park is forbidden.

The main priority is to open Newfound Gap Road back up which with I-40 closed at the NC TN border due to a landslide, is even more urgent. It will take days before people can go directory from Gatlinburg To Cherokee NC without huge detours.

Open Roads in the in the Great Smoky Mountains national park:

  • Little River Road TN

  • Gatlinburg Bypass TN

  • The Spur between Gatlinburg TN and Pigeon Forge TN

  • Laurel Creek Road TN

  • Cades Cove Loop Road TN

  • Tremont Road is open to Upper Tremont Road

  • Greenbrier Road is open to Ranger station

  • Wears Cove Road TN

  • Cherokee Orchard Road TN is open to the Twin Creeks Science Center

Closed Roads due snow and ice in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

  • US 441 Newfound Gap Road between Cherokee NC + Gatlinburg TN

  • Cataloochee Entrance Road NC

  • Toms Branch Road NC

  • Lake View Drive NC

  • Foothills Parkway East TN

  • Foothills Parkway West TN

Current Road Closures and Openings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Friday, December 18, 2009

All roads in the Great Smoky Mountains national park other than 1 Closed on Tennessee Side

Snow is still falling and it is just too much for the snowplows and sanders in the Great Smoky Mountains national park prompting the national park service to close all but one of the roads in the GSMNP due to snow and ice.

The only road, which has so far eluded closure, is Tremont Road, which is off Laurel Creek Road between the Townsend Wye and the entrance to Cades Cove. The section of Laurel Creek Road past Tremont Road has been already been closed for much of the day limiting all access Cades Cove and Cades Cove Loop Road, Sparks Lane, Hyatt Lane and Forge Creek Road. Rich Mountain Road and Parson Branch Road are both closed for the winter season.

This weekend is the beginning of the Christmas Holiday peak tourist season and with Newfound Gap Road now closed along with both a section of I-40 by border between North Carolina and Tennessee closed and Old State Road 284 between Big Creek and Cataloochee, getting around in the Smoky Mountains is going to be very difficult. As a result, retailers will most likely see sales suffer at a time when they are needed the most.

More often, it is best to stay put in weather conditions such as this. Driving on Smoky Mountain Roads is just better left to emergency vehicles only. Hopefully if you are visiting the Smokies this weekend you have a cabin with provisions so you can hunker down and enjoy the beauty of the Smokies in winter.

Current Road Closures and Openings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Cades Cove closes due to winter storm in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

First Newfound Gap Road (US 441) in the Great Smoky Mountains national park closed, now Laurel Creek Road is closed just past Tremont shutting off all access to Cades Cove, which may remain closed for much of the weekend.

Cherokee Orchard Road by the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail just outside the city of Gatlinburg has been closed below the Noah Bud Ogle cabin at the gate by the Twin Creek Science Center.

Continuing accumulation may close the rest of the parks through roads such as Little River Road and the 2 Foothills Parkways.

Current Road Closures and Openings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Snow blankets Smokies causing road closures in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

A huge winter storm system is dusting the Smokies with snow, which has reached as much as 4 inches of accumulation in Newfound Gap prompting road closures in the Great Smoky Mountains national park early this morning with many more expected in the next 3 days.

At least another 2 to 6 inches of snow is called for today with the heaviest snowfall predicted in elevations of 3,500 feet or more. By tomorrow, snowfall accumulations in the Smoky Mountains area expected are to be from 6 - 12 inches and Sunday calls for more snow and potential rain with plummeting temps at night n the low teens.

Expect most if not all major roads in the GSMNP to close and some such as Newfound Gap Road, may remain closed for the entire weekend or even longer.

The following roads in the Great Smoky Mountains national park are closed due to snow and Ice:

Great Smoky Mountains national park closures last updated 3:04 pm 12/18

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Additional Road Closings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Due to Snow and Ice.

Old 284 which connect Big Creek with Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains national park has just been added to the growing list of road closures from today's storm which is expect to dump snow until around 1 pm today.

The following GSMNP roads are now closed:

  • Cataloochee Entrance Road by Maggie Valley NC

  • Cherokee Orchard Road in the Roaring Fork Gatlinburg TN area

  • Foothills Parkway East Cosby TN to I-40

  • Little River Road from Gatlinburg TN to Townsend TN

  • Old 284 Between Big Creek NC and Cataloochee NC

  • Newfound Gap Road Gatlinburg TN to Cherokee NC (US 441)

  • Wears Gap Road between Wears Valley TN and Metcalf Bottoms

Temperatures expected to remain at or below freezing for the remainder of the day and into the teens tonight so the snow and ice will stick around until at least tomorrow.

Little River Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Closed Due Winter Storm

Little River Road connecting the Sugarlands area just outside Gatlinburg Tennessee with the Townsend / Cades Cove area is closed along with Cherokee Orchard Road and the Foothills Parkway East due the snow and ice. Snow is still falling with another few more inches expected today.

Other roads such as the Laurel Creek Road are rapidly covering over with Crib Gap being the biggest issue and at this rate sanding and plowing may not be enough.

Newfound Gap Road connecting Cherokee with Gatlinburg has been closed now for hours and may not reopen today.

Newfound Gap US 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Closed Due to Ice and Snow

Newfound Gap Road (US 441) the Great Smoky Mountains national parks main road connecting Gatlinburg Tennessee with Cherokee North Carolina has just been closed due to ice and snow. Snow falling right now will probably make driving on Newfound Gap Road too treacherous for at least the balance of the day.

There has already been a report of a car sliding off the roadway that will need to be recovered. The driver of this car was able to make 2 cell phone calls to the Swain Counties Sheriff's office and is believed to be OK.

At least one other car is stranded because of snow and ice which was backing up the last of the traffic on the Tennessee side.

To make matters worse, a crucial section of I-40 near the Tennessee North Carolina border still remains closed because of a landslide and old 284 which will most likely close, cannot be plowed.

Those looking to go around the park will need to make very large detours on more treacherous roads that also may close so the best advice is to stay put.

The Spur section of the Foothills Parkway between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee is still open, is being sanded right now, and should be able to remain open.

In weather such as this, the best thing to do is remain safe at home if possible. If you do go out, you must have enough clothes in your vehicle to be able to withstand the weather so that you can leave your car if needed. You also need proper shoes for walking in snow and ice - sneakers are not adequate!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

High Sustained Winds in the Smokies of 60 mph and More are Predicted Until Past Midnight Tonight

The Great Smoky Mountains are still getting hammered with high winds knocking down more trees / branches and damaging roofs.

Lower elevation should expect winds of about 30 mph with much higher sustained wind speeds exceeding 60 mph in elevations of 3,000 feet and above.

Utility companies have been busy restoring power and so far no large scale power outages have been reported although with at least another 10 hours of more high winds expected, we may not remain so lucky.

Due to the high danger of downed lines, persons should not be walking around in the dark or in any standing water such as puddles because of the risk of electrocution.

Most tree damage and blockages in roadways within the Great Smoky Mountains national park has been cleaned up with the exception of the Cherokee Orchard / Roaring Fork section which is now closed.

Huge Wind Event Blasts Through the Tennessee Smoky Mountains Leaving a Path of Destruction.

With virtually no warning a huge wind storm blasted through Sevier County, Blount County, Coche County, and the Great Smoky Mountains national park leaving a path of minor destruction in its wake. There are still 30 plus mph winds still blowing through sections of the GSM national park.

Numerous reports of downed trees blocking roadways, downed power and phone lines and property damage from fallen trees such as cars and roofs are keeping emergency personnel and utility workers busy directing traffic, clearing roadways and restoring services.

The national park service had recorded sustained wind speeds of 70 mile per hour with gusts exceeding 90 mph on Cove Mountain in the Gatlinburg - Wears Valley area.

The park is still cleaning roadways up in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and numerous hiking trails will have blow downs making passage difficult if not impossible for those on horseback.

Traffic is still heavily impacted on Little River Road just west of the Sinks where a large blow down will require heavy equipment for safe passage of both lanes.

The left hand lane North Bound Spur Road just before King Branch has a large limb blocking the roadway make drivers swerve and more weakened limbs may fall especially of the winds pick up as well.

The Gatlinburg Bypass between Newfound Gap Road and the Spur also has reports of tree limbs down by the Campbell Lead Bypass.

Several trees are also down on state road 32 in Blount County.

Limbs are also being reported down on the Foothills Parkway West / 129 area which will take longer for crews to get to and clean up.

Wind Storm Damage Updates:

  • Limbs along the North Bound Spur near King Branch have been cleaned up.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Great Smoky Mountains national park seasonal construction road closures and conditions for hiking

Late fall and winter in the Great Smoky Mountains national park means that it's time for seasonal closing of roads, campgrounds and park facilities. Though there is a cold snap in the air, black bear will still be active for a few more weeks so backcountry campsites, shelters and hiking trails have warnings or are still closed.

This year will be changeling for many who want to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the winter and early spring as some of the federal stimulus money is being spent repairing Clingmans Dome Road, the Roaring Fork Motor Trail and finishing off the Foothills Parkway between Wears Valley Road in and Walland.

Though Clingmans Dome Road is a popular road when it is closed for winter for hikers and skiers, it will be closing for all use as this winter it is going to be repaved and new handicapped assessable vault toilets (non flushing outhouse style) will be installed instead of using the historical building now being used as a restroom. This building is going to be converted into a small visitor center and Great Smoky Mountains Association store.

The present toilets in the 60 year old building are not in compliance with current environmental standards nor are they handicapped accessible. I commend what the park is doing to replace the current restrooms at Clingmans Dome as well as turning this historic structure into something which will be very useful to visitors.

Finally what will be the most advantageous project being undergone for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains national park will certainly cause the most grief: The repaving of the 11 mile Cades Cove Loop Road from March to sometime in May.

Long overdue, the repaving project will completely shut this road down to cars, bikers and hikers as well as access to Rich Mountain Road, Parson Branch Road, Forge Creek Road, Sparks Lane and Hyatt Lane as well as the amphitheater in between the Cades Cove Picnic and Campgrounds.

There was no effectively way to partially close the area during construction and visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains national park as well as local businesses will be adversely affected during the construction. Te repaving of Cades Cove will be paid for from monies that have already been put aside for the project and do not involve any federal stimulus money.

Sadly the other roadways close by that hikers also use: the Roaring Fork Motor Trail and Clingmans Dome Road will also be closed to pedestrians during construction. The best places left to visit in the GSMNP via car during construction will be Tremont and the Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina.

Roads Closed in the Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed for repaving to all traffic, hikers and bikers starting sometime in March 2010 until at least late May 2010
  • Balsam Mountain Road is now closed for winter until May 8th 2010.
  • Clingmans Dome Road is now closed to vehicles traffic until May 2010 and will be closed to all hikers, bikers and skiers due to repaving starting February 2010.
  • Fontana Dam Access Road to the AT is closed to vehicles (Hikers Allowed) until January 31st, 2010.
  • Heintooga Ridge Road is now closed for winter until May 8th 2010.
  • Little Greenbrier Road is closed for winter from December 31st 2009 until March 13th 2010.
  • Parson Branch Road is closed for the winter and will open in late in April 2010.
  • Rich Mountain Road is now closed for winter until March 13th 2010.
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in now closed to vehicles and will be closed in December to all hikers and bikers starting sometime in February 2010 until May 2010.
  • Roundbottom/Straight Fork is now closed for winter until March 13th 2010.
  • The Sinks Parking Area on Little River Road will be closed due to construction from sometime in December 2009 through May 2010.

Road Construction in the Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Newfound Gap Road (US 441) will have an ongoing paving starting March 16th and expected to be done by September 1st 2010 on the North Carolina side from the Collins Creek Picnic area to the National Park Boundary at Cherokee NC. Expect periodic lane changes

Blue Ride Parkway Road Conditions and Construction

  • North Carolina: Milepost 393.6 to 405.5 Closed due to a high risk of landslides until further notice.
  • Virginia to North Carolina: Milepost 0 to 356 Guardrail replacements will cause traffic to be reduced to 1 lane as work is done through 2010.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Hiking Trail Conditions

Closed GSMNP Hiking Trails

  • Trailhead access from roads within Cosby Campground to Lower Mount Cammerer Trail, Snake Den Ridge Trail, and Low Gap Trail have a detour as long as the campground paving takes place until spring 2010. Use parking areas access by picnic grounds for these trails.
  • Foothills Parkway off Wears Valley Road (US 321) is now open for now to hikers, bikers and horseback riding

Hiking Trail Bear Warnings

  • Abrams Falls Hiking Trail
  • Crooked Arm Ridge Trail mostly on the lower portion
  • Gabes Mountain Trail
  • Laurel Falls Hiking Trail
  • Little River Hiking Trail
  • Trillium Gap Trail from the parking area up to Grotto Falls

GSMNP Hiking Trails Condition Warnings

  • Forney Creek Trail by backcountry Campsite #70 washed out bridge requiring potentially deep stream crossing at Forney Creek
  • Hazel Creek pick up area for boat shuttles near Backcountry campsite #86 has been rerouted to Olie Cove (not on regular trail maps but on some more detailed maps). Ask boat shuttle for further information.
  • Rabbit Creek Trail footbridge has washed out.