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Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains closed during government shutdown

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains closed during government shutdown.
GATLINBURG, TN -- Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains closed following the shutdown of the federal government. The Park, 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.

“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.”

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.

For more information about road closures, please call 865-436-1230.

Published October 6, 2013

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