Saturday, November 16, 2019

Temporary Closures on Park Roads for Tree Removal Work

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that single-lane and full-lane closures will affect several park roads beginning Monday, November 18 through Friday, March 31 for tree removal work. Closures are necessary to ensure the safety of motorists and tree-removal crews along the park’s narrow roadways during the work.

The Cades Cove Loop Road will experience periods of full closure and partial closures from December 2 through December 19 on Mondays through Thursdays. Cherokee Orchard Road, beginning just beyond the Noah Bud Ogle Cabin, will be fully closed from December 2 through December 20 on Mondays at 6:00 a.m. through noon on Fridays. During the work periods, roads will be closed to all vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. The Noah Bud Ogle Cabin and parking area will remain accessible to visitors throughout the closure period. Wears Cove Gap Road will be fully closed from January 29 through January 30. Single-lane closures will be implemented on the Spur from November 18 through November 22, and again from December 2 through December 20. Beginning November 18 through March 27, single-lane closures will be implemented for short durations on Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, Foothills Parkway West, and Lakeview Drive as well as the developed areas in Deep Creek, Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont.

All tree removal work involving single-lane closures will occur from 6:00 a.m. on Mondays to noon on Fridays throughout the work period, excluding federal holidays and the holiday period between December 23 and January 5. The work schedule is subject to change due to weather or other unplanned delays.

For more information about temporary road closures, please visit the park website at or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Blue Ridge Parkway Invites Public Input on Proposed Special Events Involving Temporary Closures

The National Park Service announced today the opportunity to provide input on two proposed Special Use Permits which could include temporary, full closures of sections of the Parkway motor road near Roanoke, Virginia and Asheville, North Carolina, in the spring and summer of 2020.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is reviewing a permit request from Revel Race Series to allow for a portion of a running event on the Parkway motor road on Saturday, May 2, 2020. The proposed permit would include a temporary, full closure of the Parkway motor road in both directions from Milepost 377 to 383, in Asheville, North Carolina, for all or a portion of the day.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is simultaneously reviewing a permit request from The Ironman Group to allow for a part of the cycling portion of a triathlon on the Parkway motor road on Sunday, June 7, 2020. This proposed permit would include a temporary, full closure of the Parkway motor road in both directions from Milepost 91 to 112, near Roanoke, Virginia, for all or a portion of the day.

These proposed events would bring recreational users to the park as part of larger regional events, while at the same time temporarily limit access to portions of the Parkway for the safety of event participants and park visitors. Any additional management costs incurred by the National Park Service would the responsibility of the event organizers, per National Park Service policy.

The public is invited to provide comments related to impacts of potential temporary road closures associated with each of these events on the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment Site. Comments related to the Asheville area running event can be entered at; and comments related to the Roanoke area triathlon should be entered at The comment period for both proposed events is open through Friday, November 22, 2019. The National Park Service appreciates the public’s input, which will be one of many factors considered in the final permit decision.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Phase 1 of the Trillium Gap Trail Rehabilitation Project is nearing completion!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has announced that the first phase of the Trillium Gap Trail Rehabilitation Project will be completed later this week. On their Facebook page this morning, the park stated that ⁣Thursday, November 14th, will be the last day of the closure for the 2019 season.⁣ According to the post:⁣
The first phase of the project focused on the rehabilitation of the trail starting from the Trillium Gap Trailhead up to Grotto Falls. The project involved the removal of hazard trees along the trail corridor, the restoration of the trail tread, and the construction of new stone and timber structures to help combat erosion and provide a safer, more sustainable trail. The work was performed by the Smokies Trails Forever Crew, along with an ACE AmeriCorps Crew. ⁣

⁣Phase 2 of the project will begin in the spring of 2020. During the second phase, the upper section of the trail from Grotto Falls to Mt. LeConte is expected to be closed from mid-May through mid-November. The actual dates for the closure will be announced next spring. The lower part of trail from the Trillium Gap Trailhead up to Grotto Falls will remain OPEN throughout the closure, providing visitors access to the falls.
⁣The photo below shows a side-by-side comparison of the trail approaching Grotto Falls (photo courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park):

The rehabilitation project is supported by Friends of the Smokies, a nonprofit partner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For more information about Friends of the Smokies visit: ⁣ ⁣

For information regarding the Smokies Trails Forever Program and Volunteering with Trails, please visit:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, November 11, 2019

National Park Service Announces Entrance Fee-Free Days for 2020

The National Park Service will have five entrance fee-free days in 2020. On each of these significant days of celebration or commemoration, all national parks will waive entrance fees.

The dates for 2020 are:

● Monday, January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

● Saturday, April 18 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day

● Tuesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday

● Saturday, September 26 – National Public Lands Day

● Wednesday, November 11 – Veterans Day

“Across the country, more than 400 national parks preserve significant natural and cultural areas, each one an important piece of our national identity and heritage,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “Free entrance days serve as additional motivation for people to get outside and enjoy these places of inspiration and recreation.”

Since their inception almost 150 years ago, national parks have protected resources and provided places for public health and enjoyment. With at least one site in every state, the National Park Service’s 419 parks, recreation areas, cultural sites, rivers, and trails are accessible destinations that supply benefits for overall physical and mental well being. Time spent in nature reduces stress and blood pressure and often leads to lifestyle choices that include more exercise and better nutrition. Paddling, bicycling, walking, fishing, star gazing, and camping are just some of the many memorable and healthful recreational activities available in national parks.

Veterans Day on November 11 is the only remaining fee-free day in 2019. Out of the 419 National Park Service sites, 110 charge an entrance fee, with costs ranging from $5 to $35. The other 309 national parks do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation or special tours.

The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, active duty members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

Other federal land management agencies offering their own fee-free days in 2020 include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Friends of the Smokies Seeks Donations for Cades Cove Bear Brigade

Yesterday, the Friends of the Smokies announced on their Facebook page that they are seeking donations for the "Cades Cove Bear Brigade". Here's the post if you wish to help:
Love bears? For #fundmefriday we’re spotlighting an important project: Cades Cove Bear Brigade. This volunteer program focuses on visitor safety and protection of bears through education and outreach. Donate on Facebook or online:

About the project:

This program will enable the park to more efficiently manage “bear jams” and help visitors more responsible view wildlife. These funds will be used to purchase uniforms, outreach materials, and safety equipment. (Project cost: $3,000)

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, November 8, 2019

The National Park Service Salutes Military Veterans - Free Admission on Veterans Day

The National Park Service will commemorate Veterans Day on Monday, Nov. 11, with special events and free admission nationwide.

“In recognition of the bravery and patriotism of America’s military veterans, all national parks will waive entrance fees for visitors on Veterans Day,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “While visiting our national parks, I encourage all Americans to pause and reflect on the significance of the holiday and the freedoms we enjoy thanks to the courageous service of the men and women in our military.”

“We are grateful for the brave men and women who have answered the call to serve in the military,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “We invite all veterans to continue the long tradition of enjoying respite, recreation and relaxation in their national parks. From the peaceful quiet of watching wildlife to the thrill of whitewater rafting, parks are full of activities that refresh the body and soul.”

“We fought for this land, now it’s time to enjoy it,” said Adam Stump, a combat veteran who frequently visits national parks to hike and soak in the surroundings. “National parks provide amazing opportunities to appreciate the beauty and history of this country that we served to protect.”

Throughout the country, take advantage of the resources in 419 national parks to paddle, fish, hike, bike, swim, climb, explore or simply relax.

The National Park Service’s American Military website provides a list of events, as well as information about other military-related connections to national parks.

Veterans Day will be the last fee-free day in 2019. Active duty members of the military and permanently disabled veterans are also eligible for free year-round park passes. The passes provide free admission to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and other federal recreational areas.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Smokies Hosts Star Gazing Event at Purchase Knob

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a stargazing event on Friday, November 15, 2019 at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center in North Carolina. Located on Purchase Knob at 5,000 feet in elevation, the learning center provides one of the clearest views of the sky from the Haywood County region of the park.

The Astronomy Club of Asheville will lead an exploration of the night sky at this high elevation site with a 260-degree, unobstructed view of the sky. Visitors can expect to see many celestial wonders including star clusters, binary systems, as well as the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies.

“National park areas offer a wonderful opportunity to stargaze,” says Park Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Visitors are often amazed at the amount of stars that can be seen simply by entering into the natural darkness of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

The event starts at 5:00 p.m. with an indoor presentation of what can be seen in the nighttime skies during November. This event will be held rain or shine. The learning center is located at 5,000 feet in elevation so visitors should bring warm layers for a fall Appalachian mountain evening. The program is free, but participation is limited by parking availability. Participants must register in advance to reserve one of the 45 parking permits. Reservations for parking permits can be made by registering through Eventbrite at or by calling 828-497-1907.

For more information about stargazing in the park, please visit the park’s website at

Ramble On: A History of Hiking