May Will Be a Tricky Month for Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitors: What To Know

by Jon D. B.
may-will-be-a-tricky-month-for-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-visitors-what-to-know

A whole lot of closures, repairs, and hang-ups are scheduled for May in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM). Be sure to prepare accordingly!

Heading to the Smokies this May? Closures to popular trails have already begun, and more major road and trail closures are to come. Below, we’ve gathered all of GRSM’s current closures scheduled for May 2022 to help fellow Outsiders plan their trips and avoid disappointment.

Closures in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for May 2022:

  • May 3-4: Alum Cave and Chimney Tops Trails are closed
  • May 9-11: Clingmans Dome Road will be fully closed
  • Thru July 14: Big Creek Trail will be fully closed to all use Monday through Thursday of each week, excluding federal holidays, starting May 9
  • May 9-19: Lane closures along the north and southbound Spur between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, beginning Monday, May 9 will be in effect each week, Monday through Thursday, from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. each day

And Don’t Forget: Cades Cove Vehicle-Free Wednesdays Begin May 4 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Alum Cave and Chimney Tops Trails Closures

Firstly, Alum Cave and Chimney Tops Trails close from Tuesday, May 3 through Wednesday, May 4. Visitors won’t have access to these iconic trails due to repaving of all trailhead associated parking areas. As the park cites in a press release, this work is part of the pavement preservation project along Newfound Gap Road between Chimneys Picnic Area and Newfound Gap.

Both trails will reopen as soon as the parking lot work is complete, however. This work is also weather dependent and schedules may adjust accordingly throughout May. Be sure to check the park’s Temporary Closures page each day before your visit just in case.

Full Closure of Clingmans Dome Road: May 9, 10, 11

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Clingmans Dome Observation Tower. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Photo credit: GRSM, NPS media release)

In addition, Clingmans Dome Road will close beginning Monday, May 9 through Wednesday, May 11. These closures accommodate repaving of the main parking areas along the roadway.

This work is also part of the ongoing pavement preservation project that began in March. Due to heavy equipment operations along the roadway, the area will close to all motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists to ensure safety of crews and visitors.

Big Creek Trail Closures Begin May 9 for Rehabilitation Work, Last Thru July 14

For those planning to visit Big Creek Trail this summer, please note that Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will implement temporary, weekday closure of Big Creek Trail to repair the popular horse and hiker trail.

Big Creek Trail will fully close to all use Monday through Thursday, excluding federal holidays, beginning Monday, May 9. Closures will last through Thursday, July 14 to safely conduct the rehabilitation work.

Note, Big Creek Trail will be fully open Friday through Sunday each week during closures. Backcountry campsites 36 and 37 will also remain open. Each can be accessed using routes that do not include Big Creek Trail.

According to the park’s media statement, the focus of this project is to rehabilitate surface drainage along the entire 5.6-mile Big Creek Trail. Crews will also be making repairs to the tread surface and removing hazard trees and logs along the trail.

In the end, the rehabilitation will improve overall trail safety and protect the park’s natural resources for years to come. 

Upcoming Single-Lane Closures on the Spur

In addition to trail closures, Great Smoky Mountains National Park maintenance crews will implement temporary, single-lane closures along the north and southbound Spur between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

These closures begin Monday, May 9 and last through Thursday, May 19 for routine maintenance operations along the road shoulders. The single-lane closures will be in effect each week, Monday through Thursday, from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. each day.       

Note, the roadways will remain open during these times, but motorists should anticipate traffic delays. Please reduce speeds and use extra caution.

GRSM implements temporary single-lane closures along the most heavily-trafficked park roads for all roadside work conducted on foot including litter patrol, tree removal, mowing operations, shoulder reconditioning, and culvert cleaning. These temporary closures better ensure the safety of workers along winding roadways with high traffic volumes. 

Before you visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park this May, be sure to visit their Temporary Closures page for daily changes. Safe travels, Outsiders!

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