Smoky Mountain Visitors Centers Open MLK Weekend

Smoky Mountain visitors centers open for MLK holiday weekend

Smoky Mountain visitors centers open for MLK holiday weekend

Smoky Mountain Visitors Centers Open MLK Weekend. Friends of the Smokies will temporarily fund the reopening of Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, N.C., Friday through Monday, Jan. 18-21, 2019.

Visitation to the park usually increases during these dates due to the Martin Luther King, Jr.  holiday. Both visitor centers will be open Friday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Following the closure Monday evening, the two visitor centers will again close until federal funding is restored and the park fully reopens.

We are proud to commit funding for the visitor centers and restrooms to reopen during the holiday weekend in order for rangers to provide a safe and enjoyable visitor experience,” Friends of the Smokies Executive Director Tim Chandler said. “Any opportunity to work with our partners to preserve and protect America’s most-visited national park is a welcome one, and Friends of the Smokies stands at the ready to provide further support.

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Ober Gatlinburg Winter Events Take The Chill Off

Ober Gatlinburg winter fun! Photo credit - Knox News Sentinel

Ober Gatlinburg winter fun! Photo credit – Knox News Sentinel

Ober Gatlinburg Winter Events Take The Chill Off. Get geared up for four great winter events at everyone’s favorite Gatlinburg ski destination. There is fun for the entire family this winter in the Smoky Mountains.

Ober Rocks

Ober Rocks throwback event presented by 103.5 WIMZ! Friday, January 25th, 2019 Ober Gatlinburg hosts the Ober Rocks Ski Session from 8pm-Midnight! Live Music will be played in the Lounge with DJ Slopeside laying down the beat and Pepper Palace will spice things up with a HOT WING EATING contest! Event sponsor Sierra Nevada will  cool your buds with traditional ales and lagers.

This rocking night is affordable for all!

$10.35 Ski Area Lift Ticket (8pm-MIDNIGHT!)
$10.35 Lesson
$10.35 Rentals
9pm Snow Tubing Session (tubing session will only be available if conditions are favorable.  Tickets will be sold on-site only $25/per person).

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Some Great Smoky Mountain National Park Facilities Open Despite Government Shutdown

Smoky Mountain Park Closure update.

Smoky Mountain Park Closure update.

Some Great Smoky Mountain National Park Facilities Open Despite Government Shutdown. Beginning Sunday January 13, 2019 some basic services to visitors will reopen using revenue generated by recreational fees. Limited visitor services including  restrooms and campgrounds will be available for park visitors.

The use of Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement Act funds will bring maintenance crews back to work to maintaining roads. Crews will reopen and maintain restrooms at Cades Cove campground, Smokemont Campground and the Deep Creek picnic area. Crews will also be dispatched to clear and reopen Litlle River Road between Metcalf Bottoms and the Townsend Wye. The Section of road has been closed for over two weeks due to reported downed trees and a rock slide. The restrooms at Newfound Gap and Cades Cove will remain open after emergency funds provided by Friends of the Smokies are depleted. The Great Smoky Mountain Association is also donating services to reopen the Cable Mill Visitor Center in Cades Cove. Thanks to a preexisting contract prior to the shutdown the dumpsters will continue to emptied. Sugarlands and Oconaluftee Visitors Centers will remain closed.

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Smoky Mountain Hellbenders

Smoky Mountain Hellbenders are the largest salamander in Great Smoky Mountains.

Smoky Mountain Hellbenders are the largest salamander in Great Smoky Mountains. Photo credit:  David Herasimtschuk and Freshwater Illustrated.

Smoky Mountain Hellbenders are the largest aquatic salamanders in the national park. You may recognize the Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) by one of its other colorful names; snot otter, water dog, Allegheny alligator or mud dog. The male and female Hellbenders average in length from ten to sixteen inches. It has a flat body and head with slimy skin which gives it the ability to easily slip under submerged stones searching for food. The Hellbender serves as both predator and prey in the ecosystem.

Hellbenders are found in fast-moving, clean mountain streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Like frogs, Hellbenders are excellent indicators of water quality in streams and rivers. Since they breathe through their skin, hellbenders are sensitive to poor water quality, and are considered “bioindicators.” These species can tell biologists about degrading environmental conditions when they first start changing. As Hellbender populations decline so do other species in the environment.

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Smoky Mountain Park Facilities Close With Government Shutdown

"Visitors are going to be on their own until the shutdown ends," Laurel Rematore, Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA), CEO.

“Visitors are going to be on their own until the shutdown ends,” Laurel Rematore, Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA), CEO.

Smoky Mountain Park Facilities Close With Government Shutdown.

Visitors are going to be on their own until the shutdown ends,” said Laurel Rematore, Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA), CEO. “We are encouraging people visiting the park to prepare for a lack of public use facilities such as restrooms, trash pickup and visitor center staffing.

GSMA (a nonprofit partner of the Smokies) had been providing short term funding to the park which ended January 1st. The association provided a $51,000.00 donation which kept 15 rangers on the job and the Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove visitors centers open through the holidays.

"Sorry folks park facilities are closed!" National Lampoon's Vacation.

“Sorry folks park facilities are closed!” National Lampoon’s Vacation.

One park visitor told HeySmokies, “It feels like that moment in the Chevy Chase comedy favorite “Vacation” where the  entire family has driven across county in the family truckster to Wally World only to find the park closed. This time it is no joke though.”

 

 

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