Thursday, June 04, 2020

Cades Cove Loop is restricted
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the implementation of vehicle-free access along the Cades Cove Loop Road each Wednesday, from June 17 through September 30, as part of a pilot study to improve the visitor experience. The park proposed the study due to congested parking areas and disruption of visitor services associated with the vehicle-free periods on Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the summer months that have been in effect for several years. As part of the public planning process, park officials received feedback from 2,278 individuals from 37 states during the comment period in March. "More than 60% of the comments were supportive of the trial change," says Park spokesperson Dana Soehn." "About 15% of the comments expressed a desire for the Saturday morning closures to continue, but most of these individuals also supported a full-day closure on Wednesdays." The park began collecting data on visitor use during vehicle-free time periods in 1995. Over the last 25 years, use has continued to increase with up to 1,100 people a day cycling or walking along the roadway during the 3-hour closure time period. This increased use resulted in several challenges including congestion, lack of parking, and disruption in campground and picnic area operations. By closing the roadway for the entire day, bicyclists and pedestrians will have over 12 hours of daylight to use the Loop Road without vehicles. By spreading use throughout the day, parking should be more available with less impact to campgrounds, picnic areas, and concession operations. Vehicle access will continue to be provided seven days a week, October through April, and six days a week during the trial period, June through September, providing ample opportunities for park descendants and visitors to enjoy Cades Cove. Mobility-assisted devices are welcomed during vehicle-free days on the Cades Cove Loop Road for individuals with disabilities. If visitors need accommodations to safely access Cades Cove on designated vehicle-free days, they should call 865-448-4105 for more information in advance of their visit.


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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

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