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Park Announces 2017 Spring Opening Schedule

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the spring opening schedule for park facilities for the 2016 season.

The full 2017 Facility Operating Schedule is listed below:

Roads – Secondary roads are scheduled to open as follows:

  • Forge Creek Road-March 6
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail-March 25
  • Clingmans Dome Road-April 1
  • Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road-April 1
  • Rich Mountain Road and Little Greenbrier Road-April 8.

Due to storm damage and road hazards, Parsons Branch Road does not have a scheduled opening date at this time.

Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed for bicycle use only on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00 a.m. from May 11 through September 21.

Operating Hours for Visitor Centers – The park's three visitor centers are open daily, seven days a week. The operating hours through March are as follows:

  • Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Hours are extended for each location as the season progresses. Clingmans Dome Visitor Information Center will open April 1.

Operating Hours for Backcountry Office – The Backcountry Office located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center is open every day from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Backcountry reservations and permits can also be obtained online at or by calling 865.436.1297.

Campgrounds will open on a staggered schedule starting March 10. See the schedule below for exact dates. Reservations are recommended at Cades Cove, Elkmont and Smokemont from May 15-October 31 (for other dates, these three campgrounds are first come, first serve). Advance reservations are required at Cataloochee Campground throughout the entire season. Cosby Campground, which has mostly first-come, first-serve campsites, has a limited number of reservable sites during its season. Camping fees range from $14 to $23 per site per night. 

Campers have an opportunity to camp in generator-free campsites at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont campgrounds. The generator-free loop sections of these campgrounds are reservable through provides visitors an opportunity to make reservations to many federally-managed recreation areas, including National Park Service areas, all across the U.S. The park’s developed campgrounds of Cataloochee, Elkmont, Cades Cove, Smokemont, and some sites at Cosby are on the reservation system for at least a portion of their seasons. 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.

Group Camping will be available at seven campgrounds (see schedule for opening dates) and reservations must be made through Group camping is available at Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Cades Cove, and Smokemont. The cost for group camps ranges from $26 to $65 per site per night.

Horse Camps at Round Bottom, Tow String and Cataloochee is open April 7 to October 29. Anthony Creek is open on April 1 to November 12, and Big Creek is open April 14 to October 29. Reservations are only available through  The horse site fees are $20 at all horse camps except for Big Creek where it is $25.


Family Campgrounds:

Abrams Creek 5/26 – 10/9 16 sites, $14, trailers <= 12', elev. 1125'
Balsam Mountain 5/26 – 10/9 42 sites, $14, trailers <= 30', elev. 5310'
Big Creek 4/14 – 10/29 12 sites, $14, tents only, elev. 1700'
Cades Cove Year Round 159 sites (Ax7), $17 ($20 during reservation period 5/15-10/31). Trailers 35', motorhomes 40’. Elev. 1807'. 865-448-4103. C1-12 and 26-61 are open year round. Spring: C 13-25 and 62-76 (last two loops) and B Loop open on 4/14. Fall: B loop and C13-25 and 62-76 (last two loops) close after night of 11/26. DS: 1 station open year round subject to weather closures, other stations open 4/14-10/31; subject to weather closures in Apr., Oct. and Nov.

4/7 - 10/29

27 sites, $20, trailers <= 31', elev. 2610'. Reservations required.
Cosby 4/14 – 10/29 157 sites (Ax2), $14, trailers <= 25', elev. 2459', DS, 423-487-2683. B loop open May 27 – Oct. 29. Most sites are tents only. Some sites available for reservation via
Deep Creek 4/14 – 10/29 92 sites (Ax1), $17, trailers <= 26', elev. 1800', 828-488-3184. DS
Elkmont 3/10 - 11/26 220 sites (Ax10) $17 ($20/$23 during reservation period 5/15-10/31.) Trailers ? 32', motorhomes ? 35’. Elev. 2150'. 865-430-5560 Spring: Loops A, B, C & D open 3/10 w/ 3 comfort stations; E&F open 4/14; G&H open 4/28; J-N open 5/15. Fall: Loops G-N open thru 10/31; A-F open thru 11/26. DS: 6 miles away at Sugarlands VC. Open Mar 24-Nov 1. Additional operating dates, concurrent w/ campground schedule, are weather dependent.
Smokemont Year Round 142 sites (Ax6) $17 ($20 during reservation period 5/15-10/31). Trailers ? 35', motorhomes ?40’. Elev. 2198'. 828-497-9270. DS. Dump station open year round. Spring: C, D & F loop open May 15. C Loop may be available Easter Weekend if needed. Fall: C, D & F loop open thru 10/31.
Look Rock Closed  


Picnic Areas

  • Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms picnic areas are open year round
  • Chimneys Picnic Area is open from March 11 - November 26
  • Collins Creek Picnic Area is open from April 7 - October 29
  • Big Creek and Cosby picnic areas is open April 14 to October 29
  • Heintooga Picnic Area is open May 26 - October 9
  • Look Rock PicnicAarea will remain closed for the year 
  • Twin Creeks Picnic Area, the largest picnic pavilion is open April 1 to October 29;  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.

Horseback Riding - The opening dates for the three horseback concessions located on the Tennessee side of the Park are:

  • Smoky Mountain Riding Stable on March 10-November 26
  • Sugarlands Riding Stable on March 3-November 26
  • Cades Cove from March 4-November 30. In addition to horseback rides, Cades Cove Riding Stable will offer their customary carriage rides and hay rides. 

The Smokemont Riding Stable in North Carolina is open from March 18 through Novmeber 5, providing guided horseback rides along with horse-drawn wagon rides along the route of the historic Oconaluftee Turnpike.

LeConte Lodge, accessible only by trail, open from March 20 to November 21. Prices: Adult $140, child (4-12 ) $85, child (3 and under) free (share parent’s bed and meals). Price includes bed and 2 meals, tax is extra.
Services: Overnight cabin lodging. Bag lunch for dayhikers or backpackers, $10; Beverages and baked snacks available to dayhikers and backpackers.  Contact info: Reservations by phone at 865.429.5704 and email Website is Reservations for next year may be made beginning October 1.

Campground Concessions – The Cades Cove Campground Store is open March 1-December 3. 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 11.  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.

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