On January 16, 2013 a landslide at Newfound Gap Road on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park led to a road closure. Heavy rains and flooding completely washed out a large section of the road, forcing authorities to end road access for an undetermined period of time.
Road closures are a frequent thing in the Great Smoky Mountains. Icy conditions, excessive rain and snowfall are all common occurrences in the National Park, especially in the higher elevations of the mountains. Road closures sometimes fluctuate throughout the day, so if you’re going to sightsee, how can you know which roads are safe?
Your first resource should be the National Park Service’s temporary road closure’s webpage, which can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.
Seasonal closures are also a commonplace in the Smoky Mountains, with temperatures routinely dropping and creating constant road hazards. Sights such as Clingman’s Dome, Rich Mountain and Roaring Fork Motor Trail are all examples of winter road closures that take effect every year.
For information on seasonal road closures, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/seasonalroads.htm
There are a total of 384 miles of road in the Smoky Mountains. Nearly all of these roads are paved, however, you may stumble across a well-maintained gravel drive if you venture deep enough into the Park. Driving in the mountains can be a surprisingly difficult task, with steep inclines, blind turns and unnerving descents. Here are a few tips to ensure you navigate the roads of the Smoky Mountains safely!
Constant and steep declines down the mountain can overheat your brakes, causing them to fail, smoke and give off a bitter smell. Prevent overheating your brakes by shifting your automatic car into the “Low” or “2” gear. This shift allows your engine to use it’s braking power, reducing wear and tear on your brakes.
While traveling through the Park, you will come across many “pullouts” in the road, a space for vehicles to pull over and enjoy the view or take a break. Use caution when passing these pullouts if there is another vehicle parked there. It is recommended as a courtesy that slower moving vehicles pull to the side to allow quicker traffic to pass when need be.
The rule about GPS in the Smoky Mountains is, simply, don’t use them! The directions the majority of GPS systems provide are inaccurate and may lead you even further from your desired destination. Research your pit-stops prior to departing and use the directions Pigeon Forge TN Cabins supplies to arrive at your cabin.
There you have it! A few helpful tips and hints to help you navigate the roads of the Smoky Mountains. We recommend you check temporary road closures even in the summer – areas of the Park are often closed for maintenance and repair. We wish you safe and pleasant travels!