National Park to Close Some Services in 2013


Unfortunately, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced recently that three major campgrounds will remain closed this year due to budget cuts by the federal government.

Not only that, park officials reported that one horse camp and two picnic areas will not open as well. Other facilities will open later than normal, park officials say. The delayed openings are a direct result of staffing and hiring limitations that impacted the park’s ability to conduct preseason preparation work on its facilities, park officials said in a release Tuesday.

Facilities to remain closed in 2013 include the Look Rock Campground and Picnic Area and the Abrams Creek Campground in Tennessee, and the Balsam Mountain Campground and Picnic Area (including the associated Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain Roads) and the Tow String Horse Camp in North Carolina.

Under the renewed schedule, the park’s plans for facility and area openings are:

Park Road Openings – Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road will open April 1; Parsons Branch and Rich Mountain Road will both open on April 5; Roaring Fork Nature Trail and Little Greenbrier are set to open April 1. Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain Roads will be closed for the season.

Clingmans Dome Road is open, but will officially open for the summer season on March 29.

Visitor Center Hours – The three visitor centers are open daily and the operating hours are as follows: Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, hours will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Backcountry Office – The Backcountry Office located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Backcountry reservations and permits can be obtained online at or by calling 865-436-1297.

To make reservations at the five campgrounds, and all group campsites, horse camps, and picnic shelters, visitors can go to or, alternatively, book reservations by calling 877-444-6777.

Camping – Starting April 12, all Smoky Mountain campgrounds will open on a staggered schedule. For the five campgrounds on, reservations are required at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont for the period from May 15-October 31; at Cataloochee Campground sites must be reserved; and Cosby Campground, there is a limited number of reserved sites available. Camping fees range from $14 to $23 per site/night.

Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont campgrounds do provide campers with an opportunity to camp in “generator free” campsites. These sections can be reserved through Group Camping will be available through the website at Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Cades Cove, and Smokemont. The cost for group camping ranges from $26 to $65 per site/night.

Horse Camps at Anthony Creek, Cataloochee, and Round Bottom will open April 1 and at Big Creek on April 12. Tow Sting will be closed for the season. Reservations are only available through The horse site fees are $20 at all horse camps except for Big Creek where it is $25.

Campground Schedule

North Carolina:

Balsam Mountain – Closed for the Season

Big Creek – $14/site, Opens April 12

Cataloochee – $20/site

Deep Creek – $17/site, Opens April 12

Smokemont – $17/site off-season, $20 mid-May-October 31


Abrams Creek – Closed for the Season

Cades Cove – $17/site off-season, $20 mid-May-October 31

Cosby – $14/site, Opens April 12

Elkmont – $17/site off-season, $20 mid-May-October 31

Look Rock – Closed for the Season

Little River Trading Company

Hiking, Climbing, camping, biking, kayaking

Little River Trading Company (LRTC) is one of the best outfitters in the Smokies. And here is just one reason that you need a good outfitter close by:

You have come to the Smokies, ready to spend several days in the mountains, hiking and camping – roughing it.  You stop at a hotel for the evening before you start your adventure in the National Park.  You are repacking your gear for the hundredth time to make sure you have everything you need.  As you are going through the check list you find that you have left one of the sleeping pads at the house… 8 hours away.  What do you do?

You pay a visit to the Little River Trading Company in Maryville, TN – right outside of Townsend and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  They will have what you need so that you can start your adventure on time and with the knowledge of knowing that you have bought a quality product from a company that knows their gear.

Little River Trading Company covers almost every outdoor adventure that you can think of.  From kayaking to camping, mountain biking to hiking and climbing, they have gear and clothing for anything you have planned.  When you walk in the front door of their retail location you will be in one of the best outdoor adventure clothing shops that you will ever find.  At the back of the clothing area is their climbing shop and footwear.  Next to the clothing is a camping and hiking shop carrying all the gear you might need for a day or a week or a month on the trail.  Past that is the Cycology bike shop (opened in 2006), this is the premier mountain bike shop in the Smokies and though you can’t mountain in the Smokies, they good folks at Little River Trading Company can certainly set on the right path to finding trails to bike one.

Here are just some of the Brands that you will find at Little River Trading Company:

  • Asolo
  • Bluewater
  • Birkenstock
  • Camelback
  • Chaco
  • Columbia River Knife and Tool
  • Croakies
  • Five Fingers
  • Kavu
  • Kelty
  • Leki
  • Life is Good
  • Marmot
  • Merrell
  • Mountain Hardwear
  • Mountainsmith
  • National Geographic
  • Ocean Kayak
  • Old Town
  • Patagonia
  • Teva
  • Timbuk2
  • The North Face
  • Vasque
Here is the best reason to go to Little River Trading Company: the staff.  The guys and gals at LRTC use the gear that they sale.  They are outdoor enthusiasts.  They hike, they climb, they mountain bike.  You are not going to big box store to buy something from someone that has never spent even on night outdoors, you are buying from someone that spends their free time enjoying those outdoor activities for which they sale the gear.  They are experts and they can tell you what you actually need when you are backcountry camping or climbing because they have already been there and done that.

Little River Trading Company
2408 E Lamar Alexander Parkway
Maryville, TN