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View Full Version : Government Shutdown and Smokies Access (Non Political)


Crockett
04-05-2011, 02:52 PM
The government could shut down this Friday and outside of the politics of all that I am wondering if anyone knows what part (if any) of the park would be open/accessible if that were to happen. I have heard folks on another forum say that 441 will still be open since it is a state route but calling the park they say all park roads will be closed as of this Friday going forward until the budget stuff is resolved. I don't care about the politics of what is behind the shutdown that isn't the info I am looking for. I am just starting this thread to get information on what will actually be open or closed if anyone knows for certain.

whitefeather
04-05-2011, 05:01 PM
Geez, I hope not! The trip I had planned on April 20th is at stake.

I wonder if the park personnel working on the spill sight will still be on the job.

I'm with you Adam, just need to know one way or the other on the park facilitites, open or closed.

It just keeps getting better...NOT!:frown:

GrouseMan77
04-05-2011, 06:50 PM
I wonder what kind of hike I'd have from the park entrance up to #24?:cool:

buckeyetrouter
04-05-2011, 07:19 PM
this is not good!!!! Our church men's group has reserved a group site at Elkmont for April 28 thru May 1st......

narcodog
04-05-2011, 07:50 PM
It was reported tonight on NBC that the Natl. Parks will be closed.

whitefeather
04-05-2011, 08:45 PM
It was reported tonight on NBC that the Natl. Parks will be closed.

Narcodog,

Thanks for that info!

However, I'm not sure whether I believe the media sometimes. They can be quite "assumptive" in their reporting. Even though park personnel may not be on the job, will the park actually be closed as in shutting down, closing off, all park roads, campgrounds, and trails? Are they going to chase out everybody that's already camping, fishing, hiking?

I truthfully don't know, so I am going to call every park phone number I can find to get some real information on any closures. I will post here when I find out something!

UPDATE! Looks like National Park week, April 16-24, might be celebrated minus any park services, camping, etc.

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110404/NEWS02/104040342/2275/RSS05

When the federal government shutdown in November, 1995, Great Smoky Mountains National Park stayed open, but campgrounds, restrooms, and other facilities closed, as well as services in all other national parks and national forests.

I am planning on going anyway in the event that the campgrounds are still open gate, first come first serve. Don't need the restrooms, but water might be a problem if Sugarlands is closed.

UPDATE!

David Barna, a Washington based NPS spokesperson recalls what happen to the national park system in 1995 when it shut down.

http://travel.usatoday.com/alliance/destinations/chrisaroundtheworld/post/2011/03/How-a-Government-Shutdown-would-affect-National-Parks/147700/1 (http://travel.usatoday.com/alliance/destinations/chrisaroundtheworld/post/2011/03/How-a-Government-Shutdown-would-affect-National-Parks/147700/1)

People already there (camping, hiking in the back country, etc.) are given 48 hours to leave.

Can any one recommend a nice state park in TN or NC to stay at that's near GSMNP. My fishing license is from NC. Was planning on using it a few more times before it expires. Can't delay trip because of the wife's work schedule.

Crockett
04-05-2011, 09:57 PM
It might not happen at all but I hope if it does Whitefeather that what you say about the roads remaining open happens. I can always go out in the woods to pee but without the road I will have to ride my bike up to tremont to fish there. Of course will cut the pressure way back for a while. Thanks for the replies fellows now we wait and watch.

spotlight
04-05-2011, 11:03 PM
As much as I hate to say this....if the park is closed maybe I could get some peace and quiet finally....because I will find my way in you can believe that! If I had to guess all the campgrounds would close and the visitor centers.

What a mess!! I get park newsletters via e-mail if I get anything from the park I will post it as soon as I hear something.

whitefeather
04-05-2011, 11:14 PM
As much as I hate to say this....if the park is closed maybe I could get some peace and quiet finally....because I will find my way in you can believe that! If I had to guess all the campgrounds would close and the visitor centers.

What a mess!! I get park newsletters via e-mail if I get anything from the park I will post it as soon as I hear something.

Spotlight,

According to the last article I posted, they do close the visitors centers and campgrounds, restrooms, back country, etc. Thanks for posting any information you receive.

Crockett,

I hope you're right and this thing is settled before its shut down. The last time this happened it was in December, but the outcry from the 2 million people who were booted out of the National Parks was felt long afterward in politcal repercussions. This time its springtime and a lot more people will have their vacation plans destroyed.

spotlight
04-05-2011, 11:21 PM
I guess if they close the backcountry I won't have to worry about running into people there either. The Appalachian Trail runs thru the Smokies and it's thru-hiker season what are they going to do tell the hikers the park is closed??? I think not.....again what a mess!!

whitefeather
04-06-2011, 06:00 AM
I guess if they close the backcountry I won't have to worry about running into people there either. The Appalachian Trail runs thru the Smokies and it's thru-hiker season what are they going to do tell the hikers the park is closed??? I think not.....again what a mess!!

Exactly! What a mess!

GrouseMan77
04-06-2011, 08:23 AM
As much as I hate to say this....if the park is closed maybe I could get some peace and quiet finally....because I will find my way in you can believe that!

Don't call me... I'm not interested in sneaking onto property that belongs to me. :rolleyes:

Crockett
04-06-2011, 08:49 AM
Don't call me... I'm not interested in sneaking onto property that belongs to me. :rolleyes:

LOL good point Jason

jross
04-06-2011, 08:53 AM
OH pooh!!!

Me and some buddies are planning on coming down Friday thru Tuesday for a backcountry hike! I hadn't thought of this whole shutdown business yet....Just wait until I tell them this.

A serious question for you guys.... If we come down is it likely we can get into the mountains? Would day hikes be a possibility?

Rog 1
04-06-2011, 09:30 AM
I wonder what kind of hike I'd have from the park entrance up to #24?:cool:

If they leave the road over the mountains open and close everything else you can get to #24 by way of Huskey Gap trail off of 441....did that one year when the Little River road had been closed for almost 2 years while they redid all the bridges and rebuilt part of the road that had been lost to a slide....usually they allow the roads throughout the park to remain open to travel...

whitefeather
04-06-2011, 09:57 AM
OH pooh!!!

Me and some buddies are planning on coming down Friday thru Tuesday for a backcountry hike! I hadn't thought of this whole shutdown business yet....Just wait until I tell them this.

A serious question for you guys.... If we come down is it likely we can get into the mountains? Would day hikes be a possibility?

jross,

Don't know this for sure, but... since the rangers are law enforcement, and are regarded as "necessary" personnel, I would guess that the rangers will be patroling the closed off areas, like back country trailheads to keep people from going in, since there will not be anyone keeping track of who's in the backcountry. No paperwork will be processed.

I would imagine back country permits will not be issued, either. Not 100% fact, mind you. Just a guess based on the information that was recalled from the last (1996-1996) shutdown which closed all national parks, national forests (camping), and national monuments. People were told to leave within 48 hours. Don't know if there was a "or else" that went along with that (as in trespassing, arrest, etc.).

Pretty bad when the people can't even go in their own park because the
support personnel that run the park aren't going to be at work.

When were they (park officials) ever cognizant of the fact, in that much detail, when people were fishing, hiking, bird watching, horse back riding, and camping in a national park at any time, except for maybe backcountry hikers, campers.

What about people hiking the AT. Are they supposed to stop and turn around when they reach GSMNP because its too dangerous to be there because nobodies there to "watch over them."

I think it should be "everybody for themself, enter at your own risk, it's your responsibility to stay safe and be prepared. But for the "one in a million" who will always manage to get themselves in trouble, we all have to religuish our right to go into "our park".

narcodog
04-06-2011, 10:07 AM
SMNP is different than other Parks as there is no entry fee and 441 is a through highway they will not close it down. Most other Parks have personnel at gates,YNP, SNP and on and on.

Back country permits will not be issued, but you can get them on line before the shut down. There will be no maintenance folks so rest rooms will most likely be closed. The road to Cades Cove will most likely be closed as well as other gates that are closed.

Visitors centers will be closed.

whitefeather
04-06-2011, 10:20 AM
Don't know about Elkmont (everytime I try to go there something goes wrong) but Smokemont has a entrance gate to the campground that probably will be closed.

Don't remember if there is a gate across the main exit from the campground, there are further up in the campground.

At any rate that will also close off the parking lot at that BF trailhead. If so, that pretty much limits parking to the parking lot over the bridge to the right or along the road, if they don't close off the entire road before the bridge at 441.

Crockett
04-06-2011, 10:34 AM
I heard that there was a press conference at the park at 9 where they were supposed to talk about how the shutdown would look for the gsmnp so we should know more tomorrow.

whitefeather
04-06-2011, 11:57 AM
I just talked to a gentleman at Smoky Mountain National Park at 11:43AM, April 6th, and he said, "park higher ups still in a meeting deciding on what to do and how the shutdown will affect the park."

Kytroutbum
04-07-2011, 11:29 AM
Please don't blame the NPS personnel they are doing just what they are told to do. Blame the idiots, the whole spectrum in DC. I had to close a BEAR FREE CAMPGROUND to soft sided campers - pop-up's and tents- due to a bear maulling 15 miles down the road last summer. I felt terrible telling families with no place to camp they could not camp between us and YNP. As a volunteer all I could do was tell them what was on the sight and that enforcement were in int area and the fine started at $500. The local rangers knew it was clean and safe but the higher up's wanted to play it safe.

Check with the NPS before any shutdown as to whether there will be fines, etc for entering a closed area.

whitefeather
04-07-2011, 12:49 PM
Please don't blame the NPS personnel they are doing just what they are told to do. Blame the idiots, the whole spectrum in DC. I had to close a BEAR FREE CAMPGROUND to soft sided campers - pop-up's and tents- due to a bear maulling 15 miles down the road last summer. I felt terrible telling families with no place to camp they could not camp between us and YNP. As a volunteer all I could do was tell them what was on the sight and that enforcement were in int area and the fine started at $500. The local rangers knew it was clean and safe but the higher up's wanted to play it safe.

Check with the NPS before any shutdown as to whether there will be fines, etc for entering a closed area.

Kytroutbum,

Sorry! Didn't mean to sound like I was blaming anyone in the NPS at the park level. And I didn't want this to turn into a politcal debate. So I will stay mid-road.

Unfortunately, that "cradle to the grave-we've got to take care of you" mentality is present in NPS in Washington at the higher "political" levels or they would simply say, "we're locking up until this thing is settled. You're on your own"!

I know the rangers are just doing their job, I'm not blaming them or suggesting anyone give them a hard time, but the thing just shouldn't become a criminal issue either. That's like saying if I go out into my front yard during a declared emergency curfew that I'll be arrested for criminal tresspass. It's rediculous!

Fine, lock-up the restrooms, visitor centers, vending machines, support buildings, etc. but let people camp, hike, fish, drive the roads, and use the park on their own cognizance and under their own concern for safety. If people are so naive about being in the wilderness and can't take care of themselves, then maybe they should stay at home.

This country is so "sue-crazy" it's unbelievable. The majority of law-abiding citizens have to give up their park (property) in order to make sure the bureacrats backsides are covered. I worked for the federal government for a good many years in different departments. I know how things work in those arenas. I took orders and did what I had to do, but didn't want to do, also.

Most of the times I have been in the park I have not even come into contact with any park officials, rangers, or other workers where I needed their assistance and they were not even aware of my existence either. So why would it be any different if they are not there?

And I have tried relentlessly in the last 48 hrs to try to find out exactly what will take place, even speaking to someone at the GSMNP dispatch center and they couldn't give out any information because they hadn't been briefed yet.

Why is it being kept such a big secret. They have been mandated to have a plan in place for the last two years. Why hasn't that been published? (rhetorical question)

I don't blame you or anyone else who works within the NPS for the decisions or indecisions that are made by the higher ups in times like these. Decisons made by a committee of those who don't want to take any ownership of the decision never turn out good.

I'm not even blaming anyone for the emminent shutdown. Things need to be fixed in our country and there's no free pass. We either suffer through the fix or go down in smoke for ever.

But please, just saying the parks will be closed without further explanation is a bit shy of what I expect from the people who supposedly work for me. Especially when I had a major trip planned down there in a couple of weeks and still don't know if I'll be able to make it. I'd like to know for sure so I can cement alternative plans.

You all do a great job, so please accept my appology if I sounded otherwise.

I personally think that an all volunteer, "we'll take over keeping the park clean and safe" group of people should take over in these cases. I'd volunteer to clean toilets, pick the trash, or whatever.

After all, the property belongs to us, the power to oversee them emminates from "we the people", so why not take the responsiblities back in the interim and help out?

Kytroutbum
04-07-2011, 02:05 PM
No offense taken- I was in the park years ago when they shut it down. They gave folks in the visitor's center 5 minutes to leave. The campgrounds were emptied very quickly. I just wanted to warn people that entering a posted CLOSED AREA may or may not result in a federal violation and fine. The "PARK HIGHER UP'S" may not know exactly what will be enforced.

Ky Tim
04-07-2011, 04:20 PM
I guess if they close the backcountry I won't have to worry about running into people there either. The Appalachian Trail runs thru the Smokies and it's thru-hiker season what are they going to do tell the hikers the park is closed??? I think not.....again what a mess!!

spotlight, if you read Bill Bryson's book about hiking the AT it has been done before. He talks about it happening at Shenandoah NP. According to my flawed memory he said they had rangers at the gates telling the hikers they couldn't pass through.

Crockett
04-07-2011, 07:49 PM
Alright I will admit something I will be in the park this Sunday closure or not. I will be hiking around the Webb creek area in case the park service is reading this and wants to come and find me to hand out fines. I drive a silver pickup truck with Blount county tags that will be parked near the cobbly knob store :biggrin:. Good luck finding me!

**EDIT**
I won't be near the cobbly knob store after all but will be somewhere near hwy 32 up around groundhog ridge in Cosby. I will be in a Tan Yugo with Ohio plates.

sammcdonald
04-07-2011, 08:44 PM
they will close the park....enforce it with enforcement rangers....if you are there you will be cited....if you are in the back country and caught you will be cited....you will not like the fine...this is serious offense when the park is closed...i hope the idiots in wshington avoid this mess
sam
this is poacher heaven...so don't be there if it is closed....obey the closure and call your representative and senator to stop the washington pork barrel football

duckypaddler
04-07-2011, 08:44 PM
Alright I will admit something I will be in the park this Sunday closure or not. I will be hiking around the Webb creek area in case the park service is reading this and wants to come and find me to hand out fines. I drive a silver pickup truck with Blount county tags that will be parked near the cobbly knob store :biggrin:. Good luck finding me!

Just kidding:biggrin:

Webb Creek? Come on Crockett, she's the ugly sister:rolleyes: Just go 1/2 mile East and find her prettier sister (More fun & more variety):biggrin:

And if you get far up Webb, just jump the ridge & get a taste of her sister:eek:

There's more roads in that area, they are everywhere you look:smile:

Have Fun, I hope to fish Sunday

whitefeather
04-07-2011, 09:21 PM
they will close the park....enforce it with enforcement rangers....if you are there you will be cited....if you are in the back country and caught you will be cited....you will not like the fine...this is serious offense when the park is closed...i hope the idiots in wshington avoid this mess
sam
this is poacher heaven...so don't be there if it is closed....obey the closure and call your representative and senator to stop the washington pork barrel football


I read an article in a Tennessee newspaper yesterday about the 'shutdown' that cracked me up.

One lady wrote her representative an email and told him, "take off your lace panties and find a solution..."

flyman
04-07-2011, 09:41 PM
I hope it works out for you guys, but if all else fails Cherokee might make a decent alternative destination. :biggrin:

Crockett
04-07-2011, 09:47 PM
Here is an idea and some American can do spirit coming out all this. Larimer sheriff vows to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open:

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_17795489

whitefeather
04-07-2011, 09:54 PM
Well that's about as as American as one can expect! Hoorah for the Larimer County Sheriff's Department. I agree 110%!

Mundele
04-07-2011, 11:16 PM
It isn't smokies related, but my son's cub scout pack had a campout planned for this weekend, the biggest, most-looked-forward-to of the year at Bandy Creek in Big South Fork. It was cancelled today, since the groceries and preparations would have to be made today.

Try explaining to a 1st grader why he can't go camping when it's beautiful outside. He cried on my shoulder. Breaks your heart.

Ah well. I guess it's good to get used to disappointment young. Sucks.

--Matt

silvercreek
04-08-2011, 08:05 AM
Look on the bright side. While many workers will be out of work and soldiers may not get paid, the Senators and Congressmen will continue to get their pay checks. Makes sense.

Crockett
04-08-2011, 11:02 AM
Sam do you still work at sugarlands? Just wondering how you got the news about the fines for walking in the park. I haven't found that info anywhere else outside of your post.

I think there will be a midnight deal in place tonight at least that is what I am hoping for.

bhrt
04-08-2011, 11:07 AM
It isn't smokies related, but my son's cub scout pack had a campout planned for this weekend, the biggest, most-looked-forward-to of the year at Bandy Creek in Big South Fork. It was cancelled today, since the groceries and preparations would have to be made today.

Try explaining to a 1st grader why he can't go camping when it's beautiful outside. He cried on my shoulder. Breaks your heart.

Ah well. I guess it's good to get used to disappointment young. Sucks.

--Matt

Copy this email and send it to your representatives. I've seen / heard several comments that "most people won't even notice". Terrible.

Ky Tim
04-08-2011, 01:16 PM
A certain fly shop in Gatlinburg posted on facebook today that 441 would remain open and you could fish the WPLP and Oconaluftee and that you could get to Little River on foot. Not saying it is true, just reporting what someone else said.

Rog 1
04-08-2011, 03:46 PM
The last time I was supposed to camp when this happened they only shut off the campgrounds and left other accesses open. We were able to drive into the trailhead at Elkmont and Tremont and fish above without any problems. If they are only going to allow fishing along 441 then there should be a lottery for a beat to fish or have you take a number....those poor fish will never have seen so many flies being flung at them....every business that depends on recreational dollars from visitors to these federal lands will take a hit....while the government is talking to making up pay to the furloughed federal workers how will these private losses be addressed?

Crockett
04-08-2011, 03:52 PM
Here is a statement the gsmnp sent out to guide companies and commercial use vendors today:

Visitors and potential visitors to national parks, wildlife refuges, and
other public lands should be advised that, in the event of a government
shutdown, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau
of Land Management will close and secure park, refuge and visitor
facilities on public lands.

Visitor activities that require a permit, including public events, will
not be allowed or will be cancelled or postponed. Visitor centers will be
closed and access to park areas denied.

Visitors using overnight concession accommodations and campgrounds will be notified and given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements. The National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and some Bureau of Land Management roads will be closed except when they are necessary as thruways.

All roads with gates will be closed, with the exception of Newfound Gap
Road, which has been determined to be a "necessary thru road" and by
definition, must remain open to through traffic. Motorists will be
advised that all trail heads and parking areas along Newfound Gap Road are closed, as well as the parking lot and restroom facilities at Newfound Gap and that stopping for any reason, except in an emergency, is not permitted.

narcodog
04-08-2011, 04:11 PM
This was just sent out to the Atlanta area FF clubs that were to hold a FFV event tomorrow. All access to the Chattahoochee NWR Park is NOW being closed off. The tents that were already erected are being taken down. :mad:

whitefeather
04-08-2011, 05:22 PM
Crockett and others,

This makes the Larimer County Colorado's Sheriff's Department look even more like hero's for taking over patrol and emergency service duties to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open to save their sports/tourist/outdoors driven economy from taking a big hit.

I'm wondering why GSMNP couldn't have arranged a similar deal for keeping it open. They have had two years to get it done.

Pigeon Forge with its 75th year celebration and being victim to the terrible (Oohh That Smell, Lynard Skynard) event that Gburg just suffered has got to impose a equally big hit on the economy there, Townsend, and elsewhere nearby.

That along with the loss of National Park Week tourist traffic revenues if the shutdown isn't resolved before April 16.

You'd think the outside world would hear the people screaming about it all the way up here in Indiana. And I couldn't blame them if we did.

But yet, I haven't found a word about it in any of the local newspapers, Knoxville, or Nashville papers what so ever.

spotlight
04-08-2011, 06:34 PM
Below is the press release from the park.....what effect will this have on local economy right in the middle of prime Spring trout season???

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
News Release

Immediate Release Contact: Bob Miller
Date: April 8, 2011
865/436-1207

If the Government implements a shutdown, nearly the entire Park would


be closed beginning Saturday, April 9, all Great Smoky Mountains National


Park facilities would be closed, including visitor centers, campgrounds,


picnic areas, trails, concession operations, restrooms, and all roads, with


the exception of the Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg and Cherokee.


Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) would remain open to through traffic


only. No stopping or parking along the road or at trailheads and overlooks


is permitted, and all restroom facilities would be closed, including those


at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn., the Oconaluftee


Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, and Newfound Gap. The Clingmans Dome Road


which is accessed off Newfound Gap Road would be closed.





NPS



Bob Miller
Management Assistant
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
(865) 436-1207
FAX 436-1204