GSMNP announces spring facility opening schedule

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the 2017 spring opening schedule for park facilities. See the full opening schedule listed below:

Roads – Secondary Roads are scheduled to open as follows: Forge Creek Road opened on March 10; Clingmans Dome Road will open on April 1; Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road will open April 7; Rich Mountain Road and Little Greenbrier Road will open on April 14; and Balsam Mountain Road and Heintooga Ridge Road will open on May 26. Due to road damage and hazard trees, Parson Branch Road will remain closed in 2017. Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed for bicycle use only on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00 a.m. from May 10 through September 27.

Campgrounds open on a staggered schedule that started on March 10. See the following schedule for exact dates. Camping fees range from $14 to $23 per site per night. The park’s developed campgrounds of Cataloochee, Elkmont, Cades Cove, Smokemont, and some sites at Cosby are on the reservation system through for at least a portion of their seasons. provides visitors an opportunity to make reservations to many federally-managed recreation areas, including National Park Service areas, across the country. The system allows campers to reserve specific campsites and to make reservations 6 months in advance. Group campsites and picnic pavilions can be reserved up to 12 months in advance. Visitors can make reservations at the five campgrounds, all group campsites, horse camps, and picnic shelters by booking sites online at or by calling 877-444-6777.

Advance reservations are required at Cataloochee Campground throughout the entire season. Reservations are recommended at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont for the period from May 15 through October 31. During the rest of the open season, these three campgrounds are first-come, first-serve. At these three campgrounds, campers also have an opportunity to reserve a generator-free campsite. Cosby Campground, which has mostly first-come, first-serve campsites, has a limited number of reservable sites.

Group Camping is available at the following seven campgrounds by reservation only through Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Cades Cove, and Smokemont. See the following schedule for exact dates. The cost for group camps ranges from $26 to $65 per site per night.

Horse Camps are available by reservation only through at Anthony Creek, Big Creek, Round Bottom, Tow String and Cataloochee See the following schedule for exact dates. The horse campsite fees are $20 at all horse camps except for Big Creek where it is $25.


NC Campgrounds Fee Opening Date Group Sites Horse Camp ($20, $25)
Balsam Mountain $14 May 26 N/A N/A
Big Creek $14 Apr 14 Apr 14 Apr 14
Cataloochee $20 Apr 7 Apr 7 Apr 7
Deep Creek $17 Apr 14 Apr 14 N/A
Round Bottom $20 N/A N/A Apr 7
*Smokemont $17, $20 Year-round May 15 N/A
Tow String $20 N/A N/A Apr 7
TN Campgrounds Fee Opening Date Group Sites Horse Camp ($20, $25)
Abrams Creek $14 May 26 N/A N/A
Anthony Creek $20 N/A N/A 1-Apr
*Cades Cove $17, $20, $23 Year-round Apr 1 N/A
Cosby $14 Apr 14 Apr 14 N/A
*Elkmont $17, $20, $23 Mar 10 Apr 28 N/A
Look Rock Closed

*Campsites are $20 per site during the reservation period May 15-October 31. At Elkmont, riverside campsites are $23 during reservation period.

Picnic Areas at Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms are open year round. Chimneys picnic area will open on March 11 and Collins Creek picnic area will open on April 7. Big Creek and Cosby picnic areas will open April 14. Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Pavilion will open on April 14. Heintooga picnic area will open on May 26. Look Rock picnic area will remain closed for the year.

The park’s largest picnic pavilion at Twin Creeks opens on April 1 and reservations are required through Twin Creeks’ fees range from $35-$75 depending on the number of people. In addition, picnickers can reserve five other picnic pavilions on They are located at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Greenbrier picnic areas. The cost is $20, except at Greenbrier where it is $10.

Operating Hours for Visitor Centers Sugarlands Visitor Center (SVC), near Gatlinburg, TN; Cades Cove Visitor Center (CCVC), near Townsend, TN; and Oconaluftee Visitor Center (OVC) near Cherokee, NC are open daily, seven days a week. The Clingmans Dome Visitor Information Center is open daily, seven days a week from April 1 through November 30. See the following schedule for operating hours:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
CCVC 9:00- 4:30 9:00 5:30 9:00-6:30 9:00-7:00 9:00-7:30 9:00-7:30 9:00-7:30 9:00-7:00 9:00-6:30 9:00-6:30 9:00-5:30 9:00- 4:30
OVC 8:00-4:30 8:00-4:30 8:00-5:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-5:00 8:00-4:30
SVC 8:00-4:30 8:00-4:30 8:00-5:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-7:30 8:00-7:30 8:00-7:30 8:00-6:00 8:00-6:00 8:00-5:00 8:00-4:30




10:00-6:00 10:00-6:00 10:00-6:30 10:00-6:30 10:00-6:30 10:00-6:00 10:00-6:00 9:30-5:00


Operating Hours for Backcountry Office – The Backcountry Office located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, is open every day from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Backcountry reservations and permits can also be obtained online at or by calling 865-436-1297.

Horseback Riding – The opening dates for the three horseback concessions located on the Tennessee side of the Park are: Sugarlands Riding Stable on March 3; and Cades Cove on March 4; and Smoky Mountain Riding Stable on March 10. In addition to horseback rides, Cades Cove Riding Stable will offer their customary carriage rides and hay rides which are wheelchair accessible. The Smokemont Riding Stable in North Carolina will open March 18 providing guided horseback rides along with horse-drawn wagon rides along the route of the historic Oconaluftee Turnpike.

LeConte Lodge, accessible only by trail, will open on March 24. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 865-429-5704, fax 865-774-0045, or email at [email protected]. One night at the lodge costs $145 per adult and $85 for children 4-12 (tax not included). Children 3 and under are free. The price includes two meals–dinner and breakfast. Day hikers and backpackers can purchase a prepared bag lunch and snacks/beverages at the lodge.

Campground Concessions – The Cades Cove Campground Store will open March 1. The store provides groceries, camping supplies, firewood, ice, vending, limited food service, souvenirs, and bike rentals. The Cades Cove Store has multi-speed comfort bikes, single speed cruisers, and electric assist bikes for rent. The Elkmont Campground concession opens on March 10. The concession provides firewood, ice, limited camper convenience items, and vending of soft drinks, newspapers, and snacks.

For more information on park events, please visit the park’s website at

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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