Karen Pence Gets Outside Smoky Mountain Style

GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash welcomes dignitariies. Photo credit - GSMNP
GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash welcomes dignitariies. Photo credit – GSMNP

Karen Pence gets outside Smoky Mountain Style. Second Lady Karen Pence and Deputy Secretary of the Interior Katherine MacGregor met with park officials at Clingmans Dome recently to talk about the mental health benefits of being outdoors as the next phase in the park’s plan to restore public access to more roads and picnic areas was announced. 

Karen Pence opens Clingmmans Dome.
Karen Pence opens Clingmmans Dome. Photo credit – GSMNP

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an urgent need for us to pay closer attention to our mental health and emotional well-being,” said Second Lady Karen Pence. “Our amazing national parks offer many mental health benefits and more than ever before, we must ensure that we are taking care of ourselves and each other.”

Mrs. Pence is the ambassador for PREVENTS task force. This interagency stands for the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide. The task force launched a public health awareness campaign called “More Than Ever Before” to highlight the importance of checking in with family, friends and loved ones during the pandemic. Mrs. Pence talked about the holistic benefits of being outside, and the importance of public access to our country’s incredible national parks and public lands.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an urgent need for us to pay closer attention to our mental health and emotional well-being,” said Second Lady Karen Pence. “Our amazing national parks offer many mental health benefits and more than ever before, we must ensure that we are taking care of ourselves and each other.”

Mrs. Pence and Deputy Secretary MacGregor with GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash opened Clingmans Dome Road as the first step in the next phase of the park’s reopening plan. Plans to open the following areas on Saturday, May 23 were also announced: 

  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Big Creek Road and Big Creek Picnic Area
  • Cosby Road and Cosby Picnic Area
  • Greenbrier Road (to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead only)
  • Tremont Road
  • All park trails
     

With nearly every state in the nation taking some action to reopen, what a joy it is to be in Tennessee with Second Lady Karen Pence to reopen areas of our most visited National Park for the enjoyment of the American People,” said Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor.  “The Great Smoky Mountains offer over half a million acres to relax and enjoy some fresh air and Vitamin D.  Today we are thrilled to expand access for Americans to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of this stunning landscape.

The park provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation with over 800 miles of trails, quiet walkways, and self-guiding nature trails where visitors can disperse for a safe hiking experience. The health and safety of visitors, employees, and volunteers is the number one priority for the National Park Service. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for this pandemic includes social distancing and wearing face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained. By restoring access to additional roads this week, the Smokies offers even more opportunities for visitors to spread out and responsibly recreate across the park.  

We appreciate the patience of our visitors as we work together to safely share this space,” said Superintendent Cash. “When you’re planning your trip, have several options in mind so that you switch plans if you find an area congested. We want your Smokies experience to offer you a place to safely relax and recharge during these challenging times.” 

Restoring park access began on May 9, 2020 as part of a phased reopening plan with the following objectives:

  • Support state health restrictions and local efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Allow the park, partners, and concession operators time to implement and improve mitigation actions with lighter levels of visitation.
  • Allowllow for an assessment of how returning visitors affect COVID-19 curves within surrounding communities. 

The park has developed a range of mitigation actions that include new disinfection procedures and increased cleaning frequency for facilities; installation of protective barriers in visitor contact facilities; new employee practices for shared workplaces and vehicles; and focused messaging to prepare visitors for safe outdoor recreation.

Visitors are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines and to wear facial coverings in busy areas like Newfound Gap, Cades Cove and the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower.. Visitor centers and campgrounds will remain closed. These facilities will open when safe and appropriate mitigation measures are in place.

Park managers expect visitors to adhere to the following public health guidance for a safe and responsible visit.

Choose trails and overlooks without congested parking areas

  • Visit early in the morning; stay in your vehicle while viewing wildlife and allow traffic to proceed
  • Follow Leave No Trace principals by packing out everything you bring into the park
  • Maintain social distance from other visitors
  • Wear face coverings where social distancing is not possible.

Source material: GSMNP

More Hey Smokies Features:

No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Fire Ant Invasion...
Fire ants have marched into Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Smoky Mountain Fire Ant Invasion is underway. This small intruder may pose [Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Virtual Campout...
Smoky Mountain virtual campout will be fun for the entire family! Great Smoky Mountains National Park will co-host the National Park Service[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Clingmans Dome Opens...
Clingmans Dome Opens to the public for 2020 season. Clingmans Dome Opens. Clingmans Dome is one of the most popular destinations in the Grea[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Attractions Open...
Smoky Mountain attractions open after COVID-19 closures. Smoky Mountain attractions open after two months of covid-19 fears. Smoky Mount[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Opens
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Opens...
Great Smoky Mountains National Park opens with much anticipation. The Covid-19 virus pandemic forced the closure of Great Smoky Mountain[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Tamale recipe. Homemade tamales are always a Smoky Mountain special event! Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are on the [Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Phased Opening
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Phased Opening...
Wildlife braces for the return of humans to GSMNP. Photo credit - myvetcandy Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces phased opening. B[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Dandelions
Smoky Mountain Dandelions...
Smoky Mountain dandelions (whose Botanical name is Taraxacum officinale) considered by many to be an obnoxious, stubborn, persistent weed are an[Read More >>]
Merle Fest Virtual Concert
Merle Fest Virtual Concert...
Merle Fest Virtual Concert scheduled. Music fans can view 2012 broadcast of MerleFest from Wilkesboro, NC. this weekend. The current pandemic ca[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event Cancelled
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event Cancelled...
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event Cancelled. National Park officials announced the cancellation of the popular synchronous firefly ev[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Eastern Spotted Skunk
Smoky Mountain Eastern Spotted Skunk...
Smoky Mountain Eastern Spotted Skunks give fair warning and provide some interesting acrobatics just before sending out a cloud of noxious spra[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Plane Crash
Smoky Mountain Plane Crash...
Smoky Mountain Plane Crash. National park officials have identified the pilot who survived after making an emergency landing in Great Smoky Moun[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Smoky Mountain Turkey Tail Mushrooms...
Smoky Mountain Turkey Tail mushrooms are always in season! Trametes versicolor (common name Turkey Tail mushroom) is a decomposing polypore mush[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Pink Moon
Smoky Mountain Pink Moon...
Smoky Mountain Pink Moon. The Pink Moon or "Fools Moon" will not be turning pink despite the name. April’s full Moon arrives on Tuesday, April 7[Read More >>]
Dolly Parton Reads Imagination Library Stories
Dolly Parton Reads Imagination Library Stories...
Dolly Parton Reads Imagination Library Stories. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free books to childre[Read More >>]
Dollywood Cades Cove Expansion Breaks Ground
Dollywood Cades Cove Expansion Breaks Ground...
Dollywood Cades Cove Expansion Breaks Ground. Smoky Mountain officials announced today the expansion of the popular theme park has begun. The pr[Read More >>]
Native American Fry Bread Recipe
Native American Fry Bread Recipe...
Native American Fry Bread Recipe. This bread has been sustaining Americans for centuries. The simple recipe has been handed down through the ge[Read More >>]
Corona Virus Closes Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Corona Virus Closes Great Smoky Mountains National Park...
Corona Virus Closes Great Smoky Mountains National Park. GSMNP closes to support COVID - 19 prevention efforts. Park officials have closed all a[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Initiates Corona Virus Health Guidelines
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Initiates Corona Virus Health Guidelines...
Great Smoky Mountains Initiates Corona Virus Health Guidelines. Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020 all national park campgrounds, picnic areas, p[Read More >>]
Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers Asked To Postpone Thru-Hikes
Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers Asked To Postpone Thru-Hikes...
Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers Asked To Postpone Thru-Hikes. Late winter and early spring is the time for a mass human migration known as Appalac[Read More >>]