Thanks to Congress' inability to pass a budget bill before Tuesday morning's mid night deadline, a government shutdown is now in effect. The Great Smoky Mountains national parks are now closed. This means campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms, visitor centers, and trail heads will be closed. Anyone currently staying at the park will be asked to leave. Those who have trips booked will be notified the park is closed. Weddings and special events at the Great Smoky Mountains are canceled as of midnight Tuesday. Park officials say 27 weddings are planned for the first two weeks of October.
However, main roads in the park, Newfound Gap Road, which runs from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, N.C. will remain open. Gatlinburg Bypass area will remain open, as well as the road that runs from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge known as the spur.
October is one of the biggest months for the Great Smoky Mountains because nearly one million people visit. Most visitors say they are going ahead with their plans to visit the Smoky Mountains despite the park closing.
"I"m going ahead with my plans to visit and wouldn't miss the beautiful fall colors of the Smoky Mountains. We were going to camp in the national park, but have found a secluded, affordable cabin in the Cherokee Forest at Wildwood Mountain Cabins just outside of Gatlinburg in Cosby, TN." explained tourist Angela Armstrong. "We still will get to experience all the beauty of staying in the forest and walking on trails even though its not at the national park."
The Great Smoky Mountains is spectacular this time of year, and despite the government shut down, the Great Smoky Mountains will still be great. The area is beautiful with plenty of things to see and do, and many visitors who may have originally planned to camp in the national park are looking at other options such as local campgrounds, hotels, and cabins.