Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Smokies Public Affairs Office Clarifies Hiking During Shutdown

The Great Smoky Mountains Public Affairs Office recently published a press release clarifying the issue of hiking in the park during the government shutdown:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains closed following the shutdown of the federal government. The Smokies, along with all 401 National Park Service units, closed visitor facilities on October 1, 2013. All visitor centers, picnic areas, campgrounds, trails, and roads are closed except for Newfound Gap Road (Hwy 441), the Spur, and the Gatlinburg Bypass.

In the Park, 279 employees were placed on furlough primarily leaving only a few dozen rangers on duty to protect property and resources throughout the park, as well as the public traveling the Spur and Newfound Gap Road. While most overlooks and pull-offs along the roadway are open to accommodate safe traffic flow over the mountains, facilities and trails remain closed. Park rangers are dependent on personnel, now furloughed, trained to support search and rescue operations when hikers become lost, injured, or ill in the backcountry. Such occurrences are normally quite frequent at this time of the year and each one typically requires up to a dozen or more park staff to resolve.

“We ask that the public voluntarily respect the closure of the backcountry for everyone’s safety,” said Chief Ranger Clay Jordan. “With less staff on duty, we do not have the personnel on hand to sufficiently respond to emergency situations in the backcountry. We understand the desire of visitors to hike during this beautiful time of year and we are hopeful that the park will soon reopen.”

For information on hiking in areas surrounding the park, please click here.

Hiking in the Smokies

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