Government Shutdown Forces Closure of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sugarlands Visitor Center, October 1, 2013 - Staff Photo by Jeff Depew

Sugarlands Visitor Center, October 1, 2013 – Staff Photo by Jeff Depew

Because of the shutdown of the federal government caused by the lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service (NPS) has closed all 401 national parks, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All visitor facilities including visitor centers, picnic areas, campgrounds, trails, and roads – except for Newfound Gap Road, (Hwy 441) including the Spur and the Gatlinburg Bypass – are closed. The park will remain closed until the government reopens.

Park visitors in all overnight campgrounds and lodges will be given until 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 3 to make travel arrangements and leave the park. In addition, all park programs, Parks as Classrooms education programs, and special events have been canceled including permitted weddings and special services in park facilities.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts over 35,000 visitors on average each day in October; nationally, more than 715,000 visitors a day frequent the National Park System. Nationwide the NPS stands to lose approximately $450,000 per day in lost revenue from fees collected at entry stations and fees paid for in-park activities such as cave tours, boat rides and camping. Gateway communities across the country see about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending that is lost during a government shutdown.

In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 279 employees are on furlough because of the shutdown along with 60 concessions employees and 45 Great Smoky Mountains Association employees who are similarly affected. 47 employees remain on duty, providing security and emergency services.

Nationwide the shutdown has also furloughed more than 20,000 National Park Service employees; approximately 3,000 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 12,000 park concessions employees are also affected.

Because it will not be maintained, the National Park Service website will be down for the duration of the shutdown. NPS.gov has more than 750,000 pages and 91 million unique visitors each year.

For updates on the shutdown, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown

About the National Park Service. National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014