As we just pasted midday on day 3 of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park closure created by the government shutdown, we can report some minor, very minor, improvements to the situation.
Newfound Gap Road US441 remains open all the way from Gatlinburg Tennessee to Cherokee North Carolina with the Newfound Gap Parking area now barricaded and closed to all access.
Parking areas by trail heads for hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park such Alum Cave Trail, Husky Gap Trail, Deep Creek Trail, Thomas Divide Trail, Kephart Prong Trail, Kanati Fort Trail and Newton Bald Trail are all coned off and closed. The same for any parking area near a quiet walkway.
The good news is that all major overlooks such as the Oconaluftee Overlook, Carlos Campbell Overlook, and the Swinging Bridges remain open to pullover and enjoy the view.
You cannot park there and walk into the woods or on a trail as the park is closed to all use other than driving and parking in designated spots on Newfound Gap Road.
All visitor centers in the park are closed and will remains so. The same for picnic areas, bathrooms all other roads inside the park other than the Gatlinburg Bypass connecting Newfound Gap Road with the Spur.
The Spur which goes between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is the only park controlled road outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which remains open. Both East and West Foothills Parkways are closed
The Smoky Mountains campgrounds as well as the primate campsite have all been closed. Some still have a few remaining stragglers which have until 6 pm tonight to leave. The Le Conte Lodge has also been closed and hikers are already making their way down the trails to their cars to leave the park.
All horse stables in the Great Smoky Mountains national park are closed and workers other than those taking care of the horses have been sent home until the government closure ends.
Bordering the Great Smoky Mountains national park in Oconaluftee by the Cherokee park entrance is the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway which is also affected by the Government shutdown.
Originally the entire 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway stretching to Virginia were going to close for the government shutdown except for a small section allowing access to the Mount Mitchell State park.
Now the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway is staying open except for the visitor centers, concessionaires, hiking trails and comfort stations which are now closed.
Though only a small part of what the national park system has to offer in both of these units, the fact that Newfound Gap Road and its overlooks and the Blue Ridge Parkway and its overlooks are still open is a huge help to visitors which come to see the scenic fall color and the local economies that depend upon them.
As a matter of fact some trees such as oaks and maples are already changing at about 5,000 and above and can be seen along the Blue Ridge Parkway today far better than any spots on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The government shutdown has not closed the Cherohala Skyway that winds through the Cherokee National Forest. Hiking is also allowed in the area and the Cherohala Visitor Center is to remain open.
It also nice to know that although most of the US Forest Service's facilities will be closed during the government shutdown, most paved roads through Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest will remain open.
Lastly most of the repaving and construction on Newfound Gap Road has just finished for now so travel will be a little easier than the extended wait times we have all experienced at the single lane closure points.
Related Government Closure in GSMNP Articles:
Government Shutdown Affecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park Day 14 - Posted 10-14-13
How Government Shutdown is Affecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Posted 10-08-13
Update to Government Closure of Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Posted 10-05-13
Shutdown Info Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway - Posted 10-03-13