Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains national park roads close after being pounded by last nights storm.

Roads crews and national park rangers are surveying damage and cleaning up what they can right now in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

While all roads in the GSMNP received damage due to fallen trees, limbs and rocks, Laurel Creek Road the entrance road to Cades Cove and Wears Cove Road between Wears Valley and the Metcalf bottoms area of Little River Road are now closed to all traffic.

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail off Cherokee Orchard Road has enough limbs and smalls trees down, that the park service has closed it for the winter season a day earlier than scheduled.

Laurel Creek Road should be open by 9:00 am, but crews are still trying to determine of Cades Cove can be opened then as well.

Cherokee Orchard Road past Rainbow falls has a large tree down which crews are working on and Newfound Gap Road between Cherokee North Carolina and Gatlinburg Tennessee is open as well as Clingmans Dome Road and Little River Road.

Today is the last day that Clingmans Dome Road is open as tomorrow it will be closed for the winter season.

Additional high winds and rain is expected to further pound the Tennessee and North Carolina Smokies today with wind and flood advisories and warnings throughout the area. Check out our live up to the minute Smokies weather reports and our new live weather station feed and Road Conditions in the Smoky Mountains.

Update 11/30/10 9:01 am
Laurel Creek Road is now open but Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to all traffic until crews can finish cleaning up all of last nights storm debris.

Update 11/30/10 9:05 am
Upper Tremont Road is now closed to all traffic.

Update 11/30/10 11:22 am
Cades Cove is now open but Greenbrier Entrance Road is now closed.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Newfound Gap Road (US441) is closed from Cherokee to Gatlinburg and more snow on the way

First Clingmans Dome Road closed yesterday due to snow and ice, and then as the snowfall increased and the ice built, Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg Tennessee and Cherokee North Carolina was then closed by rangers in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

Crews working on the roadway right now are plowing and resending some areas in hope that Newfound Gap Road can be reopened again to at least 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Since there is a Winter storm warning above 3,500 feet and under 3,500 there is a Winter weather advisory in effect until noon edt Saturday, chances are high that of Newfound Gap us 441 will be closed again for at least some of the weekend.

Update 11-05-2010 12:53 pm. It does not look as if Newfound Gap Road will reopen today.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Appalachian Bear Rescue Hosts 2010 Black Bear Expo at the Townsend Tennessee Visitor Center

With all the interest this year about black bears in the Smokies, the 2010 Black Bear Expo taking place Saturday June 26th from 9 am - 5 pm at the Townsend Visitor Center will be a big hit with locals and tourists alike.

You cannot think about the Great Smoky Mountains without thinking about our beloved local black bears. What you may not think about, is the almost 15 years of hard work that the nonprofit group Appalachian Bear Rescue does to help injured and orphaned black bear cubs by giving them a safe place to live and grow until they can be returned to the wild.

Appalachian Bear Rescue Hosts 2010 Black Bear Expo at the Townsend Visitor Center

The great folks at Appalachian Bear Rescue are hosting a black bear expo this weekend that everyone young or old can enjoy and at the same time learn how to life safely in and around black bear habitats. Black bear management is actually people management, and this expo will give you and the family the knowledge it takes to keep our bear and your family safe, all the way enjoying music, storytelling and so much more.

The musical entertainment you can enjoy at the black bear expo will be multi-talented Appalachian musician Tony Thomas and Pistol Creek Catch of the Day. Be sure to also join in on the fun activities and take in the informative displays of black bear.

You will also learn how to set up a safe campsite and photograph black bears along with other animals in the wild. 20 people who sign in ahead of time will have to opportunity to take a guided hike to an inactive black bear den. To sign up for the hike, call (828) 524-9904.

One of the other highlights of the bear expo will be the exciting and incredibly entertaining stories given by Retired park rangers Dwight McCarter and Joe Kelley. There will also be hands on demonstrations by wildlife officers.

Besides food and soft drinks that will be available, a chainsaw carver will be on hand, and you can even purchase black bear items.

So come on out to Townsend Tennessee this Saturday June 26th and support the Appalachian Bear Rescue who in 2009 took in 23 black bear cubs - that's more than twice what they handled in 2008!

Want to find out how you can help? Contact Kathy or Anne by phone at (828) 524-9904 or email at wildscove@hughes.net. Appalachian Bear Rescue is also on Facebook and they have an Appalachian Bear Rescue Blog.

Appalachian Bear Rescue
PO Box 364
Townsend, Tennessee 37882

Monday, June 07, 2010

Save The Planet Series at the Hard Rock Cafe in Gatlinburg TN with Discover Life in America

Come join us at the Hard Rock Café in Gatlinburg Tennessee on June 8th, 2010 from 6 pm to 8 pm for a community discussion where art, culture, and science meet with the folks from Discover Life in America.

Save The Planet Series at the Hard Rock Cafe in Gatlinburg with Discover Live in America

Full menu available and people of all ages are welcome to join in this informal discussion with Discover Life in America experts on this season's favorite nightlife - the synchronized fireflies of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Discover Life in America is conducting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory project which identified to date more than 17,000 species in the GSMNP of which 923 are new to science and more than 6,000 were no known to exist in the park!

Synchronized Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Synchronous fireflies and their admirers are about to invade the Great Smoky Mountains national park

In a few days just as they have done for years, millions of the Smokies beloved lightning bugs will start to shine with their amazing bioluminescence that will synchronize with one another. While this is happening about a 1,000 people a night will crowd the Little River Trail in the Elkmont section of the GSMNP which was a former rail road bed for the Little River logging company to watch and be amazed by natures light show.

Actually there are 14 species of fireflies that have been identified in the Great Smoky Mountains national park, but only one the Photinus Carolinus, performs its magical light show in a synchronized manner that is always a crowd pleaser.

This little former glowworm emerges at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit and likes to keep by slow moving water while it uses its greenish glow to attract mates. This phenomenon actually takes place all throughout the southern Appalachian Mountains, but the best place to observe it is in the Great Smoky Mountains national park, and Elkmont is one of the most convenient and safest places to observe these fireflies flash at what could be their mates.

While you can observe synchronized fireflies in virtually every section of the GSM national park, in order to accommodate so many visitors who come for the light show, the national park service has decided to close Elkmont entrance road at firefly peak season to anyone other than registered campers at 5 pm. No parking is permitted along Little River Road at this time so that cars will not hit pedestrians in the dark.

What the Great Smoky Mountains national park does do for visitors with the help of the City of Gatlinburg, which provides trolleys, is run a shuttle for $1 round trip from the Sugarlands visitor center starting 7 pm to the Elkmont trailhead.

As soon as the parking lot at the Sugarlands Visitor Center fills up or it is 9:00 pm, no more people transportation to Elkmont ends. Most every run may sell out, so come after 6:00 pm to be sure you will get a seat on a trolley to see firefly show!

If you are bringing a flashlight, you need to bring red cellophane or a red lens cover so as not to disturb the fireflies flashing or other visitor's night vision. You can only bring what fits on your lap and no coolers alcoholic beverages, or pets can go on the trolley.

The park advises the last trolley will return to the Sugarlands at 11 pm, however historically the last trolley is much later but be there before then so you will not be left in the dark at Elkmont!

Peak firefly season when the trolleys will be running and Elkmont road is closed this year will be from June 5th to the 13th.

Related Smokies Fireflies News Stories

Synchronized Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains

Monday, May 17, 2010

Black Bear Attacks Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitor on Popular Hiking Trail as Horrified Crowd Watches Helpless in Disbelief.

Last Wednesday as Mr. and Mrs. McQueen were hiking along the Laurel Falls Hiking Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains national park admiring the wildflowers, lush forest growth and pretty views along the way to the Laurel Falls Waterfall, a large female black bear which had been food conditioned and lost its natural fear of humans, jumped out of bushes along the trail and proceeded to gnaw off appendages from the couple as a group of horrified people looked on.

Black Bear Attacks Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitor on Popular Hiking Trail as Horrified Crowd Watches.

Blood, shredded shoes, clothing, and other remnants of the carnage lay scattered along the trail a gruesome reminder to all of the danger and power that a black bear welds with its bone crushing jaws, large teeth and razor sharp claws.

Great Smoky Mountains national park wildlife biologists going on the description of the dangerous human conditioned black bear trapped all the bear they could in the area that the attack on the hiker occurred.

Since they only had a general description, they systemically slaughtered every black bear they could find including the orphaned black bear cubs that are only a few months old and could not fend for themselves.

This story is loosely based upon a true event that just happened in the Great Smoky Mountains national park. Well make that very loosely. Well make that a compete exaggeration to make a very valid point.

A 26 year old hiker from Wilton, Connecticut named Sean Konover did in fact sustain minor injuries last week when in an effort to get a picture of a small 60 pound female black bear, he and dozens of other visitors around him insisted in disregarding common sense by allowing a bear to approach them too closely. Close enough in fact to bite the hiker, Sean Konovers foot, leaving a small puncture would that did not require any medical attention.

This dangerous black bear encounter occurred along the extremely popular Laurel Falls hiking trail, which traditionally not only has a tremendous amount of hikers but black bear as well, many which are food conditioned each year.

Black bear along with other wildlife get food conditioned when people intentionally or inadvertently allow wildlife to consume food or garbage. People sometimes throw food at wildlife to coax it to come closer than it normally would just to see it up close and or photograph it.

dangerous black bear encounter occurred along the extremely popular Laurel Falls hiking trail

Unfortunately, a good conditioned animal is trained that humans and human scent means food and it will lose some or all of its fear of humans making it more likely to beg for more food, steal food or attack someone for food. It may attack to protect territory where it would have normally run away before food conditioning.

Food conditioned animals generally lose half their life expectancy as their health can be adversely effected by human food and garbage, they are more susceptible to getting hit by cars, or have to be killed because they no longer are acting wild and they damaged property or threatened the safety of humans. What a tragic waste.

Though you may only be giving human food to an animal, you are teaching it to eat or at least examine anything that has a human scent.

Food conditioned animals may also eat non-food items such as foil potato chip bags because it smells like food and taste salty. Can you imagine what you would feel like if you ate a foil potato chip bag?

Animals cannot discriminate as to what garbage is because what smells like food in a natural environment is in fact food. Only humans produce garbage.

Peanut shells, apple cores and orange peels though biodegradable are enticements that make good wildlife go bad. Throw it on the ground and if you are caught, expect to get a nice ticket from a not so happy park ranger.

food enticements make good wildlife go bad

After the minor black bear attack the GSMNP officials initially learned of the incident from other visitors that were also on the Laurel Falls trail, but later, the injured man Sean Konover also reported his injury.

Intentionally approaching a bear or elk closer than 50 yards (150 feet) or close enough that it changes the animals behavior, is a violation of park regulation meant to protect humans as well as the parks wildlife. No citations were issued by the park service at this incident.

As for the young 60-pound black bear, she is not so lucky. A bullet to head is her fate. Why? Because some people wanted to take a picture of a black bear up close after others who came to visit the Great Smoky Mountains national park were slobs and left garbage along a hiking trail or may have thrown food at wildlife in violation of park rules and a ticketable offense.

Fortunately, she was not a mother bear with young cubs where as her death sentence would mean a death sentence for her offspring. She had identifiable features so fortunately a large number of bear did not have to be captured and killed to be sure to get the offending black bear that attacked the hiker was stopped form hurting anyone else. Also fortunate was the fact that she was able to be caught within 24 hours and no one else was injured.

As expected this has been a very active year for black bear in the Great Smoky Mountains national park already mainly due to the lighter than normal mast crop in mid elevations of the park so that the fall feeding frenzy did not fatten up the black bear as much as a good year would. As a result, this spring they emerged a little more hungry and desperate for food than most years.

This year has also been tough on young black bear cubs in the park some of which had to be rescued and brought to the Appalachian Bear Rescue center who desperately needs more food to feed and funding and supplies to help house all of the rescued black bears that have been brought to them.

With more than 9 million visitors a year coming to the Great Smoky Mountains national park, which has a black bear population of more than 2 per square mile, it's not a question of if there will be another fatal or serious black bear attack will occur but when. If all of us who are on the park behave appropriately and do not feed animal or approach them too closely, maybe the next attack will not be in our lifetime.

Intentionally approaching a bear or elk closer than 50 yards (150 feet) or close enough that it changes the animals behavior, is a violation of park regulation

Not feeding wildlife intentionally or approaching them too close are important first steps. Securing garbage in sealed bear proof garbage pails is also important as well as not leaving coolers with food or the smell of food or even garbage in the back of a pickup truck. If you are camping in the backcountry all food, garbage, toiletries and smelly clothes have to be hung on the bear proof wires and elevated where bear cannot reach it.

Finally, I have seen many crazy and foolish things in the Great Smoky Mountains National park, but this one amazes me every time I think about it. Last May a black bear was causing serious issues on the Abrams Falls Hiking trail in Cades Cove, so much so, a warning was posted at the trailhead and the bear was so dangerous that the Abrams Falls Hiking trail was closed due to aggressive black bear activity the next day.

dog that was tied up attached to a car parked as close as possible to where there was a black bear warning sign.

Pictured above is a dog that was tied up attached to a car parked as close as possible to where there was a black bear warning sign. Left out in case the dog got thirsty was a dirty spaghetti can filled with water that had a slick of oil and tomato sauce on the top.

She left her dog this way for more than 3 hours as she hiked. This is enticing a bear with both food and a pet which is tied up that certainly can't run away or fend for itself.

Please act responsibly around wildlife and the life you may save could be your own.

Related Smokies News Stories:

Recent Bear attacks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Newfound Gap Road US 441 between Cherokee and Gatlinburg Open After Rockslide Closure Last Night

The Great Smoky Mountains national park has seen more than its share of rockslides and landslides this last few months and yesterday was no exception as a rockslide near Mile Marker 19 on Newfound Gap Road took its toll or the roadway and drivers patience.

Fortunately, the rockslide took place new an overlook with a large parking area so that traffic could be diverted through the parking area while the Newfound Gap roadway was still open and cleanup and barriers were put onto place.

Last night the park service closed the entire length of Newfound Gap Road at 8:00 pm in case further debris fell off the hillside at night into traffic. Even before the road was closed an extensive system of barriers was set up which has been augmented with the addition of concrete barriers to keep any further debris from Newfound Gap Road US 441 which opened today at 7 am.

Drive slowly through the area and expect traffic diversions and the potential to having to come to a complete stop in around the landslide/rockslide area. The park service is waiting to see if the area has been stabilized or if in fact large equipment needs to scrape off and remove any loose debris.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains National Park needs more volunteers for the Elk Bugle Corp Program.

If you love the Great Smoky Mountains national park, wild animals, history and working with people this an opportunity you just can't pass up.

You will only be paid in sunsets, sunrises and lots of smiles in the beautiful Cataloochee valley teaching people about and help protect our valuable herd of North American Elk in the Smokies.

If you become a volunteer Elk Bugle Corp member, you will have the opportunity to work alongside more than 80 other volunteers who work in the valley who also love nature and the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park needs volunteers for the Elk Bugle Corp Program

To be an Elk Bugle Corp Volunteer you must be able to work at least 2 scheduled 4-hour shifts a month from May until November and you should enjoy working around people.

Your job will be to promote safe and ethical wild life viewing, educate park visitors about the elk restoration program in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and their behavior, and help with traffic management in the busy seasons especially in the rut season from late September through November.

elk restoration program in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

You should also enjoy being outdoors and various weather conditions and have patience when dealing with the public. The rewards are tremendous when you are a volunteer Elk Bugle Corp member knowing that you are helping educate people about the park, its inhabitants, its colorful history and protecting the park.

Just the simple act of a park volunteer securing garbage pail lids and keeping bear out of the trash containers and getting acclimated to human food, protect our beloved black bear and park visitors from having too close and encounter with a black bear.

keeping bear out of the trash containers and getting acclimated to human food, protect our beloved black bear

The park will train all volunteers with a full day of training that you must attend on either the last week in April or the first week in May.

If you are interested in joining the ranks of the Elk Bugle Corp in the Great Smoky Mountains national park RSVP to Ranger Mark LaShell at mark_lashell@nps.gov (E-mail is preferred) or call (828)269-3161. Once signed up you can attend one of 2 informational meetings and new volunteer orientation sessions that will take place in the Cataloochee Valley at the ranger station on April 15 and 17, from 1 pm to 5 pm.

If you would like to help the Elk Bugle Corp Volunteer program and cannot join the program, you can contribute to the programs enormous success by supporting the Elk Bugle Corp program with a financial contribution of any size to the Bull Elk 21 Memorial Fund set through Friends of the Smokies.

Last year members of the Elk Bugle Corp who had contact with more than 85,000 visitors volunteered more than 7,000 hours. Won't you come join us and support us?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2nd Rockslide in Days Closes Portion of Little River Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains national park has been dealing with numerous rockslides within the park boundaries and 2 large large rockslides along the Spur connecting Gatlinburg with Pigeon Forge Tennessee. Today crews are inspecting another rockslide along the same section of Little River Road between Metcalf Bottoms and the Townsend Wye that was closed last week.

Presently there is no estimated time in which this section of Little River Road will be able to be reopened. Therefore car, motorcycle, van and light pickup truck traffic is being detoured in and out of the park at the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area through Wears Gap and back in and out of the park for non commercial vehicles of all sizes at the Townsend Wye. Motor homes cannot cross the Metcalf Bottoms Bridge over the Little River and must take an alternate route of Wears Valley Road (321) when traveling between Pigeon Forge and Townsend.

Besides numerous weather related closures the Great Smoky Mountains national park has had to content with all winter, construction in Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Balsam Mountain Heintooga, Cherokee Orchard/Roaring Fork Motor Trail and Smokemont is severely limiting access to drivers and visitors of the park.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weather and rockslides deliver knockout punch to drivers in the NC and TN Great Smoky Mountains.

Drivers trying to back and forth from Tennessee and North Carolina had to contented with I-40 being closed by the NC-TN border by a huge rockslide for months, Old 284 between Big Creek and Cataloochee being closed for most of the winter due to snow, ice and downed trees, Newfound Gap Road closing often due to snow, ice and storm damage and now 129 - "the Dragon" is partially blocked due to rockslide.

Snowfall last night closed Newfound Gap Road though lower elevation roads in the park that are not closed due to construction or Old 284 which has been closed for weeks due to so many trees down, snow, ice and washout areas remain open.

Yesterday morning even though the weather was warm in lower elevations, dangerous icy conditions between Newfound Gap Parking area and Clingmans Dome Road caused a Tennessee driver of a truck along with a passenger to slide off the road and down the bank.

Park rangers arriving at the scene determine that the truck was very precarious and had to wait for rescue crews and tow trucks to arrive

Park rangers arriving at the scene determine that the truck was very precarious and had to wait for rescue crews and tow trucks to arrive to stabilize the vehicle in order to keep it from falling down the mountainside before they could free the passengers who remarkably did not suffer serous injuries from such a crash.

Drivers need to use extreme caution when driving this time of the year as lower elevations can be in the 60's and dangerous ice can be on the roadways in higher elevations or in shaded areas.

Today and tomorrow calls from more snowfall and freezing temperatures and even it Newfound Gap Reopens expect that it may close again especially as melting snow and ice refreezes in the latter parts of the day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rockslide closes portion of Little River Road in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

Another rockslide in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Little River Road forced the park service to close the section of roadway to all traffic between Metcalf Bottoms and the Townsend Wye.

Fortunately, the Sinks area is already closed to all traffic and pedestrian due to construction so no popular areas are directly affected by the closure.

This winter there have been numerous rockslides along the Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Spur and Little River Road. While some of these rockslides have taken weeks to remove excess debris and complete slope stabilization, initial reports on this slide state that Little River Road will be open to traffic very quickly.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Alleged Poacher of Bull Elk 21 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park charged, but is it enough?

We waited for months for the alleged elk poacher 35 year old Bruce Wayne Cromer Jr. of Stovall North Carolina to be charged, and to the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina has finaly filed charges.

Bull Elk #21 was shot and killed on November 13, 2009 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks Cataloochee Valley in a field across from the Palmer house. Allegedly, Bruce Wayne Cromer Jr. fired at least 3 shots from his Browning .270 caliber rifle killing bull elk 21 and then fled the crime scene in his blue 2002 Chevy Avalanche truck.

If convicted of this cowardly crime against a helpless animal, Bruce Wayne Cromer Jr. of Stovall North Carolina can be made to forfeit both his vehicle and the firearm, serve as much as 6 months in jail and face fines listed in the charges as a whopping $500.

National park regulations call for fines as much as $5,000 so I am hoping that the US Attorney's office made a typographical error in their press release of the charges being filed against Bruce Wayne Cromer Jr. of Stovall North Carolina and they are not settling for such a low figure. This is certainly not the way to discourage other poachers.

Civil charges may also be pending to attempt to collect some of the expenses invested in Bull Elk #21 by donations from individuals and organizations such as Friends of the Smokies and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Poaching a national park treasure such as bull elk #21 is a crime against all the people who owned this majestic creature the citizens of the United States.

$500 fine? That's an outrage as far as I am concerned.

Memorial Fund Set Up For Slain Bull Elk #21 to Support the Elk Bugle Corps Volunteer Program

A memorial fund has been set up by Friends of the Smokies to raise money to help properly equip the more than 80 unpaid park volunteers in the Elk Bugle Corp who generously give their time: 16,472 hours in the past 3 years!

The Elk Bugle Corp teaches visitors about the elk restoration project, other park inhabitants and ongoing projects, the history of the Cataloochee area, promotes responsible wildlife viewing, and helps with traffic management which is rut season is a handful.

The presence of members of the Elk Bugle Corp acting as the eyes and ears of the park along with some very dedicated visitors, has been instrumental in protecting our beloved elk from undue human contact and poaching.

Help the Elk Bugle Corp and help us keep this from happening again.

To Donate Click Here

Default Donation is $10 but you can increase or decrease the amount

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible as allowable by law.

Related Elk in the GSMNP Stories

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Are Guns Legal in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? They will be in just a few days...

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with other park service units will be allowing some park visitors to carry a gun as part of the credit card reform bill starting February 22nd 2010.

Will it be legal or illegal for you to carry a gun in the GSMNP or in other national parks? Here is the official park statement so you can decide for yourself:

GSMNP statement about firearms in national parks:

Concealed Firearms Regulations
As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park. It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms website and select the state that you are interested in from the list on the right side of the page. More specific information about state permit regulations can be obtained on the following websites:

North Carolina

Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances.

Additional Information for North Carolina permit holders:

The permit holder must have the permit together with valid identification whenever carrying a concealed handgun, and must disclose to any law enforcement officer that they have a valid permit and are in possession of a concealed handgun when contacted. The permit and proper identification must be presented to a law enforcement officer upon request.

Carry of Shotguns and Rifles
The possession of long guns, specifically shotguns and rifles shall be in accordance with North Carolina state law. See the North Carolina website listed above for more information.

North Carolina recognizes certain out-of-state concealed handgun permittees to carry concealed handguns, if the person’s respective state also grants such privilege to North Carolina concealed handgun permittees.

The list of states granting such reciprocity is constantly changing. Out-of-state permittees should refer to the North Carolina Department of Justice’s website at www.ncdoj.gov for a current listing of those states which are allowed to carry, pursuant to their concealed carry permits in North Carolina.

To possess a concealed handgun in North Carolina, out-of-state holders must:

  1. Carry their permit and a valid form of identification at all times.
  2. When approached or addressed by any law enforcement officer in North Carolina, disclose the fact that they have a valid concealed handgun permit.
  3. Inform the law enforcement officer that they are in possession of a concealed gun.
  4. Present both the permit and valid identification at the request of the law enforcement officer.

Additional Information for Tennessee permit holders:
The permit holder must have the permit in their immediate possession at all times when carrying a handgun and must show the permit at the request of a law enforcement officer.

Carry of Shotguns and Rifles
The possession of long guns, specifically shotguns and rifles shall be in accordance with Tennessee state law. See the Tennessee website listed above for more information.

Tennessee recognizes a facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit, or a license issued by another state according to its terms, and will, therefore, authorize the holder of such out-of-state permit or license to carry a handgun in the state of Tennessee.

This means that the state of Tennessee will recognize any state’s valid permit or license, even if Tennessee does not have a written reciprocity agreement with that state, and even if that state does not recognize a Tennessee permit.

Individuals must be in possession of the permit or license at all times while in possession of a handgun in Tennessee.

Until the new regulations take effect on February 22, 2010, carrying concealed firearms is not allowed and all possession of firearms within National Park Service lands must be in accordance with 36 CFR 2.4, which states firearms must be "rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased or stored in a manner that prevents their ready use."

...End Of GSMNP Statement on Firearms in the Park

Please be advised I am not a lawyer or offering legal advice. The last time the law about guns and firearms in national parks was revoked and they were made illegal again, the national park service did not make any public announcement of the change therefore anyone who is accessing this information should check with the national park service and state authorities to see if it is still valid.

States with NC and/or TN
Concealed Weapons Reciprocity Agreements
(subject to change without notice)

  • Alabama NC only
  • Alaska NC and TN
  • Arizona NC and TN
  • Arkansas NC and TN
  • Colorado NC only
  • Delaware NC only
  • Florida NC and TN
  • Georgia NC and TN
  • Idaho NC only
  • Indiana NC only
  • Kansas NC only
  • Kentucky NC and TN
  • Louisiana NC and TN
  • Michigan NC and TN
  • Mississippi NC and TN
  • Missouri NC only
  • Montana NC only
  • New Hampshire NC and TN
  • North Carolina TN
  • North Dakota NC only
  • Oklahoma NC only
  • Ohio NC and TN
  • Pennsylvania NC and TN
  • South Carolina NC and TN
  • South Dakota NC and TN
  • Tennessee NC
  • Texas NC and TN
  • Utah NC only
  • Virginia NC and TN
  • Washington NC only
  • West Virginia NC and TN
  • Wyoming TN only

Official Link to TN Firearms Regulations
Official Link to NC Firearms Regulations

I was personally under the impression that only concealed carry with a valid permit was what was going to be legal in the Great Smoky Mountains national park staring on February 22nd 2010.

Unlike the last time that firearms were legal in the GSMNP for a few weeks in 2009, apparently now there will be open carry in some national parks including rifles and shotguns as they are specifically listed in the park statement above.

I cannot answer how having very visible shotguns and rifles will play out in the Great Smoky Mountains national park at this time. I can say that for many people who have come to the GSM national park in the past, seeing highly visible firearms may not only be disconcerting, it will also lead to a rangers potential confusion as to a visitor's intent in the park.

Do out of state visitors without concealed weapons permits have to right to open carry long guns in the Great Smoky Mountains national park? What about handguns? If not, can concealed weapons permit holders from a state with reciprocity agreements open carry long guns and or handguns in the Great Smoky Mountains national park?

Some other questions remain such as do you have to announce that you have a concealed weapon if you just pass by a ranger on a trail or one walks up and greets you? Do you have to only announce concealment to a Protection Ranger or do interpretive rangers along with other uniformed park staff count as well?

Since the Great Smoky Mountains national park is in both NC and TN - 2 states with different weapon laws and these borders are not at all clearly defined except at Newfound Gap, will each part of the park have different laws based upon the location of a visitor and his state of residence? Obviously from the chart of Concealed Weapons Reciprocity Agreements above there are huge difference between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Other very interesting questions about how this new law will effect visitors to national parks and staff around the country is presented here.

Even if and when it is legal for you to have a gun in a national park, there are some places where firearms are prohibited such as visitor centers, ranger stations and office buildings. This is not a complete list of where guns are prohibited in a national park (which will also vary by state) so please check with the park service first. In the past, the national park service did have signs at these locations showing that firearms are illegal.

Remember even though some guns will be legal to carry in some parts of the Great Smoky Mountains national park, hunting is not.

Lastly if you want to protect yourself against a black bear attack in the GSMNP you should not use a gun but use bear pepper spray which is legal for use in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and is much more effective and safer to use as well.

Related New Stories on Guns in National Parks:

Comments are welcome and encouraged. When it comes to gun laws and/or restrictions, tempers on both sides of the issue often flare but lets keep it civil or they will not be posted.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pigeon Forge - Gatlinburg Spur Reopens as GSMNP Deals With More Weather Related Issues

Today a second major rock slide has occurred on the section of the Foothills Parkway between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge which locals call "the Spur" closing to road to traffic for hours and creating snarls in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville as motorists unfamiliar with the area attempted to navigate back roads in the pouring rain.

Pigeon Forge - Gatlinburg  Spur Reopens as GSMNP Deals with More Weather Related Issues

New barricades and detours have been set up so that traffic is now moving both northbound and southbound on the Spur and in some areas, southbound traffic is flowing in one lane on the northbound side.

The landslide was a major event dumping tons of rock and earth on the roadway and leaving and extremely unstable slope in its wake. Blalock construction is moving large equipment into the area which will include a crane that will be used to remove any of the unstable areas of the mountainside, which will later be removed from the road surface.

Cades Cove Loop has been closed for much of the day as the days strong winds caused a significant number of large trees and branches to fall on the roadway.

Upper Tremont road also sustained significant tree damage and a small rockslide along Little River Road undermined a tree that was in danger of falling onto the roadway prompting the park serviced to close the road between Metcalf Bottoms and the Townsend Wye.

Reports have also come in that there are a significant number of blow downs on Newfound Gap Road that has also been closed all day long.

If all of this mess is not enough for the Great Smoky Mountains national park to deal with, rivers, creeks and branches are now running very high and flooding can be expected in low lying areas.

New Rock Slide hits Spur Section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Foothills Parkway

Yet another rockslide just hit the spur with between 20 to 30 feet of debris being dumped on the roadway. This rockslide has occurred where traffic was moving in the Southbound lanes at the first curve past Gum Stand. It is not at where the previous rockslide on the Gatlinburg - Pigeon Forge Spur has occurred.

There are no reports of injuries or property damage at this time.

Traffic is being turned around and the city of Pigeon Forge has blocked off access to the Gatlinburg - Pigeon Forge Spur. Traffic on the Spur is being rerouted to the Flat Branch bridge.

New Rock Slide hits Spur Section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Foothills Parkway

A large trees is also blocking both lanes of the Foothills Parkway East and since the Great Smoky Mountains National Park personnel is tied up with the new landslide on the Spur, it will take a while to clear this road.

Road Conditions in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

High Winds, Rain, Fog and Light Snow Blanket The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains national park has seen days of rain and melting snow saturating the ground toppling trees. With today's wind event gaining in strength, especially on the Tennessee side, it is best that visitors stay out of the park while crews work on making the roads in the park safe again.

Road closures include Newfound Gap Road and now Cades Cove Loop Road and even after the storm is over it may take a while to cleaned up the downed trees and dangerous snags before the roads will be safe to open again.

The Foothills Parkway West has so many downed trees Great Smoky Mountains national park road crews were only able to open the roadway into a single lane alternating on each side for administrative purposes and not for public access until the numerous trees blocking the roadway can be cleared.

Today's high wind advisory calls for gusts up to 45 mph and the winter warning in effect from 9 pm tonight to 4 pm Sunday calls for high winds, snow, sleet and freezing rain. Accumulations of less than 5 inches are expected in lower elevations.

This appears to be another weekend in the Smokies that if you do not have to be out on the road, it's best to stay home and stay safe.

Road Conditions in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

Friday, January 29, 2010

All major through roads closed in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

Within an hour, every single major road in the Great Smoky Mountains national park is closed now to the winter storm dumping snow and freezing rain on the Smokies.

There are a few vehicles stranded by Alum Cave Trailhead which have not been able to make it down the slick surface of Newfound Gap Road and the GSMNP has personnel and trucks on the way to assist them.

Presently the Foothills Parkway Spur connecting Gatlinburg Tennessee with Pigeon Forge Tennessee remains open at this time.

Current Road conditions and closures in
the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Newfound Gap Road US 441 Closes as winter storm hit Great Smoky Mountains national park.

First, it was Old State Road 284 from Big Creek to Cataloochee that closed due to winter storm conditions and now it is Newfound Gap Road US 441 between Cherokee North Carolina and Gatlinburg Tennessee. Snow is falling hard and sticking to the road surface below the Chimneys already.

As much as a foot or more is expected to fall in the higher elevation tonight with a little more snow on the way tomorrow, so expect roadways in the Great Smoky Mountains national park for what could be days.

Heavy snow and previously weakened limbs from our last few storms have prompted power and phone companies in the area are expecting the worst with widespread scattered power and phone outages predicted all throughout the North Carolina and Tennessee Smokies.

The next major road in the GSMNP to close due to this storm will be Little River Road and hopes are that the Pigeon Forge - Gatlinburg Spur can be kept open.

Other roads expected to close shortly will be the Foothills parkway East, Foothills Parkway West and the Gatlinburg Bypass between Newfound Gap Road and The Spur section of the Foothills parkway.

Current Road conditions and closures in
the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rockslide Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park Keeps Part of Spur Closed a Month or More

This Monday a significant rockslide fell onto the southbound lanes of the Spur section of the Foothills Parkway (US 441) a few hundred yards south of traffic light 10 in Pigeon Forge on the way to Gatlinburg Tennessee and experts now predict that the cleanup and stabilization of the slope could potentially take at least a month.

The rockslide between Gatlinburg and Pigeon thankfully did not cause any injuries and occurred in the off-season so the traffic affected by the detour around the rockslide is minimal right now, but will affect the tourism peak that occurs on and around Valentines Day.

landslide on Spur Section of Foothills Parkway by city of Pigeon Forge

Yesterday morning the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) had geotechnical engineers inspect the rockslide and their determination is that the wall or rock, earth and vegetation is still very unstable and before the roadway can be reopened to traffic, significant stabilization effort is required.

Presently TDOT will need to obtain an emergency contract to stabilize this section of the mountainside along the Spur and once the work is started will be able to offer a more accurate time in which this project can be completed.

TDOT truck near Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge rockslide

Since the rockslide cleanup and stabilization along the spur will take so long, representatives from the Great Smoky Mountains national park and TDOT are working together to improve the traffic flow on the 1 mile detour where northbound traffic is reduced to 1 lane and southbound traffic uses 1 lane flowing south.

According to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Facility Management Chief Alan Sumeriski stated, "We are working with TDOT to improve the configuration of temporary traffic barriers and the signage to help keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible and to maximize public safety."

He went on to say "We will also be adding numerous signs in the detour area to guide residents and visitors to each of the side roads that are accessed off the Spur."

Though park rangers patrol the entire length of the Spur, the State of Tennessee owns the portion where the rockslide took place, so TDOT has sole responsibility for repairs of the slide itself.

While being restriped today there will be traffic delays along the Spur.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rock Slide closes portion of the Foothills Parkway Spur between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

A large rock slide has closed the southbound lanes of the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Spur portion of the Foothills Parkway by the Great Smoky Mountains national park forcing southbound traffic coming from Pigeon Forge to be detoured to the northbound lane that is now become 2-way traffic.

The southbound traffic on the Spur will continue a short distance to the King Branch bridge and at that point will cross over to the south lanes of the Spur. Traffic headed north on the Spur will be funneled to 1 lane at the King Branch exchange.

Temporary electronic variable message signs warn drivers of the detour and even more traffic cones are being put in place right now by the state of Tennessee to help better separate the lanes and assist with the traffic flow.

It is unclear at this time how long this detour will stay in place before the debris from the landslide can be removed and the roadway is declares to be safe again for motorists. Since the rock slide is on the City of Pigeon Forge owned portion of the Spur the city of Pigeon Forge is responsible for the slide clean up.

Local motorists who know the back roads may do best to avoid the area altogether.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fatal accident closes Newfound Gap Road (US 441) in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

A fatal combination of high winds and saturated ground claimed the life of one of the passengers in a car on Newfound Gap Road near the Chimneys Picnic area heading toward Gatlinburg. The victim Tonya Renee Eichler, 39 from Sevierville, Tennessee was killed when large trees fell on top of the car while it was being driven by Jody Simonds also from of Sevierville.

High winds especially in the upper elevations have been buffeting the park since last night and the GSM national parks electronic variable message signs warned drivers of the high wind danger prior to the fatal accident on Newfound Gap Road.

The accident was caused when large trees fell directly onto the front passenger side of the 2003 Nissan Altima crushing and trapping Tonya Renee Eichler. The driver and his daughter who was in the back seat were able exit the car by climbing out of the windows.

National Park Rangers and a Gatlinburg Rescue crew responded quickly to the scene of the accident on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains national park where they found the deceased driver inside the smashed vehicle with downed trees blocking the road.

Fatal accident closes Newfound Gap Road (US 441) in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

A passing motorist with a chain saw already had begun cutting the trees in an attempt to free Tonya Renee Eichler who was pronounced dead at the scene. The jaws-of-life were later used to extricate her from the crushed car.

Park rangers closed Newfound Gap Road and rerouted all existing southbound traffic on US 441 back down the mountain to Gatlinburg and the northbound traffic back to Cherokee.

The Simonds’ were transported by Gatlinburg ambulance to The University of Tennessee Medical Center where they were treated and released and Tonya Renee Eichler body was transported to Ft. Sanders Sevier Medical Center.

Newfound Gap Road was closed and crews started the difficult task of cleanup and had to check the balance of the roadway at daylight for any other potential hazards before reopening it back up.

Because of the high winds, various roadways have been closed as downed trees, limbs, power lines, and vehicular accidents were cleaned up in and around the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

In the Cades Cove section of the GSMNP, Forge Creek Road and Sparks Lane were also closed due to storm debris in the roadway.

Story updated with corrections 1/25/10 1:15 pm

Dangerous High Winds Blast the Tennessee Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains national park

Wind gusts exceeding 60 mph are pounding the Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee side knocking down numerous trees along with power and telephone lines causing minor power and phone interruptions throughout the region.

As if the December storms were not enough, trees and large limbs started falling last night at around 9 pm when the winds started and the windy conditions are expected to last until late this afternoon.

Driver with large profile vehicles such as trucks, vans and campers as well as motorcyclists should use extreme caution as the sustained wilds are very low and the gust come with little or no warning.

The Great Smoky Mountains national park is diligently working to removed downed trees and limbs. Fortunately, the only road closed in the GSM national park right now is the Cades Cove Loop Road, which has crews working on it right now.

While the high winds and extreme gusts continue hikers and campers are urged to stay out of the GSMNP for their own safety.