(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are pleased to announce shuttle services for visitors to access some of the most popular park destinations. Several local commercial businesses will provide shuttle services to locations where visitor demand often exceeds parking capacity.
“We are committed to developing innovative solutions to improve visitor access and experience while protecting this national treasure,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Having a shuttle option is a stress-free way for visitors to experience some of the park’s most iconic destinations.”
Shuttles will pick up and drop off at popular destinations like Alum Cave Trail, Laurel Falls Trail, Chimney Tops Trail, Trillium Gap Trail (Grotto Falls), Rainbow Falls Trail, and Clingmans Dome. Visitors should contact the shuttle providers directly with questions or to book a ride. Routes and schedules vary from provider to provider.
Visitors who choose not to ride a shuttle should come prepared with alternative destinations in case they do not find available parking at their desired location. Cooler times of year, mid-week, and early mornings or late afternoons are the best times to secure parking. Visitors must avoid marked no-parking zones. Parking in areas not specifically designed for parking damages resources, adds to congestion and is unsafe along busy roads. It can even make it hard for emergency vehicles to access some locations in a timely manner. Over the winter, park officials installed roadside protections that target areas where one or more of these issues is a concern: visitor safety, resource damage, and congestion. Parking on the roadside can be dangerous, can cause resource damage, and visitors can receive citations or have their vehicles towed if they are creating a hazard or impeding traffic flow.
If safe parking is not available at the destination of choice, park officials encourage visitors to find a new destination rather than walk along the roadside. The park offers more than 800 miles of trails and more than 380 miles of scenic roadways. Staff members are available to assist in trip planning, seven days a week, at Sugarlands Visitor Center, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and the Backcountry Office.
As a reminder, all vehicles parked for longer than 15 minutes anywhere in the park are required to display a valid parking tag. Having a parking tag does not guarantee a specific parking spot in a specific location.
For more information about congestion monitoring in the park, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/management/ves.htm.