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Smoky Mountain Road Updates

Even in the most visited national park in America, roads are sometimes closed inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To help you plan your trip, we made this guide to keep you up to date on what roads are closed and opened in the Smoky Mountains!

Mountain Road Information

Latest Smoky Mountain Road Updates

For the latest news on closed roads and road conditions in the Smoky Mountains, check out the park service's Smokies Road twitter feed. These announcements come directly from the national park service, so it is the best way to stay up to date on current road conditions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you want information about facility and hiking trail closures, check out the Smoky Mountains road and facility closures page. Lastly, you can also call (865) 436-1200 and dial ext. 631 for road information.

Smoky Mountain Road Closures Map

This map shows major roads in the Smoky Mountains. These routes are necessary for reaching the most visited sights in the national park like Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, and Newfound Gap.

Key Roads in the Smoky Mountains

Here are the main roads in the Smoky Mountains. We've included a description of each road so you can easily identify it.

  • The Spur Road – The road that connects Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. This road is managed by the park service.
  • Clingmans Dome Road – This road begins at the Newfound Gap Parking area and concludes at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies.
  • US Hwy 441/Newfound Gap Road – This major route in the Smokies runs from Gatlinburg, TN to Newfound Gap to Cherokee, NC.
  • Cades Cove Loop Road – The one-way 11-mile loop road in Cades Cove.
  • Laurel Creek Road – This refers to the stretch of road between the Townsend National Park Entrance and Cades Cove.
  • Little River Road – This refers to the stretch of road between the Townsend Entrance of the National Park at the Wye and The Sugarlands Entrance to the National Park near Gatlinburg.

Other Roads in the Smokies

These routes do not count as major thoroughfares, but they are important for reaching certain destinations in the national park.

  • The Roaring Fork Motor Trail
  • Cherokee Orchard Road
  • Tremont Road
  • Abrams Creek Entrance
  • Deep Creek Entrance
  • Greenbrier Entrance
  • Cosby Entrance
  • Heintooga Ridge
  • Wears Valley Entrance To Metcalf Bottoms
  • Balsam Mountain Road
  • Rich Mountain Road

What Causes Road Closures in the Smoky Mountains?

Winter View of Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg

There are many reasons why a road could be closed in the national park, but here are the main culprits.

  • Winter Weather Events – Winter weather is by far the most common reason that roads are closed in the national park. When ice and snow make roadways slick, the steep, curvy roads of the Smoky Mountains are dangerous to drive on. After a snowfall, the park service closes affected routes in the park until its snowplows can make the route safe for motorists again.
  • Downed Trees – The landscape of the Great Smoky Mountains is primarily forest, so high winds from storms often blow down trees. Occasionally, these blowdowns happen along roads and can block a route.
  • Floods - In the Smoky Mountains, intense periods of rainfall can cause flash flooding that can occasionally close roads. This can be an issue in areas of the park that have low water bridge crossings like Cherokee Orchard Road, The Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and The Cades Cove Loop Road.
  • Rock Slides – This is especially common on Laurel Creek Road and Little River Road where the roadway is cut into the mountainside. Sections of the rock face have been known to fall into the road.
  • Vehicle Accidents – Like any road, vehicle accidents are a common reason that a roadway is closed.
  • Seasonal Closures – Clingmans Dome Road and other high elevation roads like Forge Creek Road, Heintooga Ridge Road, and the Roaring Fork Motor Trail are typically closed during the winter months.

What Happens When a Road Closes in the Great Smoky Mountains?

Usually, when the national park service closes a road in the Smokies, it is either because the road is impassable or conditions make it unsafe for drivers to proceed.

When the park service closes a road or entrance into the national park, they will either close a locking gate or post a ranger to prevent visitors from entering an area of the park.

Gates are located at every national park entrance and at many road segments in the park. As a result, these gates are an effective way to keep motorists off closed roadways. Once road conditions improve or the park service is able to clear the route, the gates will reopen and visitors are again permitted to enter this section of the park.

How Long Will Roads Be Closed in the Smoky Mountains?

When there is a road closure in the national park it can really put a damper on your vacation plans. After all, you can't make it to beautiful sights like Cades Cove or a popular trailhead if the roads are impassable.

The amount of time it takes to reopen a road depends greatly on conditions inside the national park and the road's relative importance.

For example, US Hwy 441 (Newfound Gap Road) is an important route through the mountains and the park service works to keep this road clear during the winter months. Another road like Cherokee Orchard Road near Gatlinburg is likely to be a lower priority since it does not serve as a major thoroughfare.

The park service does an excellent job keeping roads safe and open for motorists. In all likelihood, the part of the park you want to access will be open before long.

The 2012 "El Derecho" storm event in the Smokies is an excellent example of how quickly the national park service responded to road closures in the Smokies. Though much of the park was effected by downed trees, many roads in the park were reopened in a matter of days.

When Are Road Closures Most Likely?

A road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park could be closed at any time of year, but there are certain seasons when road closures are most likely.

Typically, the national park sees more road closures during the winter months when the Smoky Mountains can receive snow and icy precipitation. This is especially true for high elevation regions of the national park like Newfound Gap, which has around 69" of snowfall annually.

During other times of the year, road closures can be caused by rock slides, flooding, downed trees from wind storms. These events are typically more limited in their scope than a major winter weather event.

Final Thoughts on Road Conditions in the National Park

We hope this guide helps you plan your trip to the Smoky Mountains national park! Please note that road closures in the park are usually rare and are short in their duration.

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Gatlinburg, TN  37738
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