This past weekend, Jay & I headed into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see if the place was shut up as tightly as the news would have us believe. We kept everything legal, staying on the roads officially open.
In our park, there are 3 roads considered major thoroughfares that are not to be closed:
- The Spur – the connector road between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg
- The Gatlinburg bypass
- Newfound Gap Road – connecting Gatlinburg and Cherokee, NC
We’d heard that even the pull-offs were closed. On the TN side, that simply wasn’t the case. We had dinner last night with a couple who went on through to Cherokee, North Carolina and said the NC side was noticeably different from Tennessee.
That being said…erm…written, the trail heads (and their parking lots) were blocked off. Including Chimney Tops & Alum Cave. However we saw several different instances of people who decided to shout “Damn the Man!” with their actions.
Others made their protests a little less punishable by fine, opting with legal pictures and #governmentshutdown hash tags.
For the permanent enjoyment of the people – this park was given…
I was most surprised at the open parking lot when we got to Newfound Gap. The lot was full, with people walking around enjoying the views. Surprised again by the open restroom facilities, but not surprised at all by the “open” donation box.
We saw rangers in the general area, but they were far from harassing (as we’ve heard about in other parks). I appreciate they have a job to do, and the respectfulness we found in our encounter.
Delayed response sounds better than no response!
With the changing of the colors, I’m very thankful to have at least a portion of the park open for our enjoyment!