31 October 2014

Cades Cove Loop Road may reopen with delayed opening on Sunday, Clingmans Dome Road likely to remain closed


Cades Cove Road will most likely reopen sometime tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 2, according to a Twitter post from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, the expected opening will be a delayed one, so visitors should call first before making the trip. You can get updates on all of the road closings and weather conditions by calling the Park Service. Clingmans Dome Road will likely remain closed Sunday due to snow and ice.

For updated road and weather information please call (865) 436-1200. Once you hear a voice, dial extension 631 for road information or extension 630 for a weather forecast.

Walker Camp Prong at Alum Cave Trail
at 3:00 p.m. Saturday. (NPS)
The National Weather Service is discouraging travel in the mountains due to significant snowfall that has already occurred and is expected to occur this evening. According to the National Weather Service in Morristown, snow will continue to fall through this evening with significant snowfall expected above 2,500 feet. Brisk northwest winds will enhance snow accumulation this evening, but snow showers will eventually diminish throughout the evening. They predict a high near 46 in Gatlinburg on Sunday with mostly sunny skies, so conditions should improve throughout the day on Sunday.

Accumulated snow on foliage-laden branches is causing trees to fall throughout the park.

The crew at LeConte Lodge reported 22 inches of accumulation at 3:00 today. They're currently closed to new hikers and will reassess the situation on Sunday, according to their website. There were guests at the lodge when the snowstorm hit, but about half of them hiked out earlier today and the rest reportedly have made it out safe as well.

WBIR reported that Rangers rescued 51-year-old Roger Fender of Franklin, TN, who was hiking with friends in the Greenbrier area when a tree fell on him Saturday morning. Park dispatchers got the call around 11:30 a.m. Fender was hit by a tree limb about a foot wide that fell on him from about 60 feet. He suffered several broken bones. Friends lifted the limb up and helped pull him out while a litter team hiked to the site.

Rangers reached the scene around 1 p.m. and were able to carry him out in about an hour and a half to a waiting ambulance.

While the early winter weather is beautiful and we all want to see the snow, it's best to avoid the Smokies until conditions are safe, especially hiking in the backcountry if unprepared.


UPDATE: Most Park roads are closed due to snowfall, ice and downed trees. According to the National Park Service, Little River Road is closed from the Sugarlands Visitors Center to the Townsend Wye due to snow, ice and downed trees and there is no access to Elkmont.

Laurel Creek Road is closed at Tremont Road and there is no access to Cades Cove and the Gatlinburg Bypass is closed. US 441/Newfound Gap Road was closed yesterday due to the storm, as was Clingmans Dome Road. Foothills Parkway East and West, Balsam Mountain/Heintooga - Greenbrier, Cataloochee Entrance Road, Weir Cove Road ... all closed due to ice, snow or downed trees.

Mount LeConte has gotten 16" of snow so far.
Purchase Knob webcam 11:00 am Nov. 1, 2014. (NPS)
Any roads that aren't currently closed will probably be closing. Conditions are hazardous and the National Park Service is recommending that visitors heed warnings about the hazards that exist, such as fallen or falling trees, ice and snow.

GSMNationalParkInfo is reporting on its Twitter account that there are many downed trees and power lines, power is out at Elkmont and campers at Elkmont and LeConte Lodge are having to stay where they're at until it's safe to leave. Rangers are asking people not to enter the Park on foot due to unsafe and deteriorating conditions such as trees falling, ice and snow.


It's hard to believe it was 80 degrees on Monday and tonight snow is falling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our first big winter storm of the season could dump up to a foot of snow or more in higher elevations this weekend. It's supposed to get down to 33 degrees tonight and 27 degrees tomorrow night in Gatlinburg. The National Park Service has closed U.S. Highway 441/Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC due to ice and snow. Clingmans Dome Road closed at 11:00 today due to the impending storm.

If you're planning a trip to the Smokies or Cades Cove, I would strongly suggest checking road and weather conditions on the National Park Service Website or following them on Twitter. Or, you can call for road and weather updates.

For updated road and weather information please call (865) 436-1200. Once you hear a voice, dial extension 631 for road information or extension 630 for a weather forecast.


The National Weather has issued the following advisory:


According to the National Weather Service:

  • Cades Cove: There is a chance of about 1-3 inches of snow accumulation in Cades Cove tonight with another 1-2 inches of new snow forecasted for Saturday.
  • Newfound Gap/Clingmans Dome: The higher elevations might get around 3-7 inches tonight with another 3-7 inches on Saturday and another 2-4 inches Saturday night with new snow accumulation of less than a half inch predicted Sunday, when it's predicted that the snow will be turning to rain.
  • Cherokee, NC is forecasted to get 1-2 inches tonight, 1-3 inches Saturday, less than an inch Saturday night and less than a half inch on Sunday.
Hiking in the Smokies can be very dangerous if you don't take the proper precautions. Many hikers have been surprised and unprepared for the drastic temperature changes in the Smokies.

Rafting in the Smokies offers the following tips for winter weather hiking in the Smokies.

What to bring on your winter hike.
The Boy Scout’s Motto is always be prepared.  Rafting in the Smokies wants you to be prepared for your wintertime hikes in the park.  Here’s a few tips on what to bring.

A hiking map and compass are essential pieces of equipment to bring along.  They come in really handy for getting you back to the trail-head.  Know where your at on the trail, and stay on the marked trail at all times.

Although most of the park does not have cell phone coverage, you still want to take along your cell phone just in case. Carry your cell phone in an inside pocket where the batteries can stay warm.
Hiking in the winter causes your body to burn additional calories and requires more nourishment. Make sure to bring enough food and high-energy snacks.

Make sure to carry at least two quarts or more of drinking water.  The stream your standing beside may look clear and inviting, but there are bacteria present that will affect your health for months to come.  Only drink the water you brought with you or boil creek water before use.

Wear layers of clothes to help regulate your temperature and keep you warm and dry.  Layers should be matched to the weather, your activity level and personal preference.  Check out this great sports medicine link on how to properly layer your clothes.

Be prepared and stay safe on your next trip to the Smokies.

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