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Road Closures - Should I go?

San Diego, CA
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Road Closures - Should I go?

Our family of 5 - including 3 children ages 4, 5 and 10 - are considering making our first trip to the GSMNP and were looking at going end of March, beginning of April. We will be driving from Northern Virginia. There will be several road closures during that time including Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Roaring Fork and the Gatlinburg Bypass. Since we most likely will not be returning to the GSMNP at any point in the near future (or even beyond) is it still worth going to the Park if we cannot see those destinations? We do have the ability to postpone this trip to another year, so if you feel I would be missing out on what makes the GSMNP such a special location if we don't see those sights - or if you feel we will have a great trip despite not seeing those points - I would appreciate your feedback.

Ohio
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1. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

personally, I would not go if Clingmans Dome, Roaring Fork and Cades Cove are not open. Those are the driving highlights of the park IMO

Boston...
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2. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

>> Since we most likely will not be returning to the GSMNP at any point in the near future (or even beyond) is it still worth going to the Park if we cannot see those destinations? <<

Absolutely yes. There are loads of other places in the park to enjoy, though not any other major scenic drives.

vcv
Tennessee
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3. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

In addition to the closed areas, there are lots of other places where you can get a glimpse of how people used to live (which to me is one of the highlights of Cades Cove) and many places with breathtaking views and short strolls or long hikes; but whether to go or not depends on what most interests you. Read about the Elkmont and Metcalf Bottoms areas; the Little River Road, which connects the Gatlinburg and Townsend sides of the park, is a lovely drive; and there is wonderful, easy hiking along rivers from the road that goes into and beyond Trement as well as along an old road (now closed to motorized traffic) at Elkmont. You can take a short hike (or drive) to an old schoolhouse near Metcalf Bottoms, and your children can see how the mountain children went to school. There is an interesting historical area near Smokemont as well, but it's been quite a while since I've been there so I can't give more details. If you do postpone your trip, you might consider coming later in the season, when it's warmer and your children will be a little older and could enjoy tubing the Little River. (NOTE TO "WINGS": not meaning to contradict you; you always have great advice, and I hope I don't sound like our favorite expert on another forum.)

Alabama
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4. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

I would wait.......Here's my response to a similar question about visiting while Cades Cove Loop is closed..........

There is lots more to see in the park but I would feel like I had missed something if I didn't get to go through the cove.

Here's why I feel that way. My husband and I went to Glacier National Park a few years ago. We went in late June but the Going to the Sun Road was still closed and we didn't get to drive the full length of the road. I feel like I missed something very special. We do plan on going back at some point but to tell you the truth I don't know if we will ever make it back or not, there's just too many other places we want to visit.

Now, if we were to plan a trip out there we would plan on going in July or August so the road will for sure be open. I feel the same way about Cades Cove. I would wait until the road was open again, but then, that's just me.

Boston...
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5. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

Vcv gives a good description of the offerings along Little River Road. There's just as much to do along Newfound Gap Road, and there are a number of entrances in the eastern portion of the national park there are well worth your time (or all your time). Over the past few years, only my most recent visit has been to the "main" part of the national park. There's a lot of wilderness out there, and those roads access only a piece of it.

In my mind, the Smokies are special because of their topography and biodiversity, which are clearly evident in every corner of the national park. History lays a helping hand in getting a clearer glimpse into the true heart of the park.

Cades Cove is hardly the most part of what there is to see in the Smokies. Visitors can get a small taste of it at Oconaluftee and a full taste over in Cataloochee, though the topography of either places is quite different from Cades Cove. (I wonder if bikers could enjoy the loop road even if it is closed to motorists.) And there are a host of other areas in the national park with unique offerings. I have several times advised Smokies itineraries that didn't even hit on Cades Cove.

Ohio
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6. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

vcv... no worries :) differing opinions are good, IMO. Hopefully, the OP will get enough varied advice to make a decision that suits them best. Or at least that's what I see as the goal.

I feel more along the lines of VeeBee. I love the historic buildings of Cades Coves and Roaring Fork. Those closed areas were my favorite places in the park. I am not a keen hiker, tho, so.... that likely makes a difference.

Boston...
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7. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

Did you visit Oconaluftee, Cataloochee, or the various homesteads in the park on the order of the Ogle Place on the Roaring Forks drive?

Ohio
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8. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

no-- wanted to, but ran out of time. The day we went over to that side, we went to Mingo Falls, came out to a huge wildfire. Ended up being sent up some CRAZY narrow road to come out on the Blue Ridge parkway. Definitely an adventure!

But, no-- we missed that part of the park, sorry to say.

Alabama
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9. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

I guess I should say that since me and my family have been up to the GSMNP many times, I wouldn't feel too disappointed to not see some of those areas NOW, but if it were my first, or first few trips, then I would rather reschedule my trip.

Boston...
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10. Re: Road Closures - Should I go?

You mean if you couldn't see Cataloochee or Oconaluftee (and it was one of your first trips) you would reschedule?

See, I'm up for anything in the national park. It's all particularly special, and with a short trip you're going to "miss" something or other. I don't think Cataloochee, or Cades Cove, or Mt. LeConte, or any specific spot in the park has a monopoly on what makes the GSMNP such a special location.