By Leif Palmer
Posted on May 5, 2020
Now that Tennessee's Safer At Home restrictions have been lifted, we're starting to see a fair number of visitors returning to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Right now, though, things aren't quite back to normal. For one thing, most of the businesses that have reopened are hotels and motels (including Bearskin Lodge, Old Creek Lodge and The Lodge at Five Oaks), restaurants and shops. Only a small number of attractions have reopened; those aren't expected to be up and running again until the end of May.
Also note that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is reopening on a restricted basis beginning Saturday, May 9. During this first phase, which is expected to last at least two weeks, only main roads like Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road and the Cades Cove loop (as well as many of the main hiking trails located near these roads) will be accessible. Restrooms found along these routes will be accessible too, but campgrounds and visitor centers will not be open at this time.
As for restaurants, a number of local eateries are opening their dining rooms for service once again, but those that do open are restricting their capacity so that distancing measures can be put into place, and staff are generally required to wear masks. Some Gatlinburg restaurants, such as T.G.I. Friday's and The Melting Pot, are scheduled to reopen soon (May 15 and May 22, respectively).
A number of special events in the Smokies area are being canceled for 2020. These include Wilderness Wildlife Week, the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, Smoky Mountain Music Festival, the Great Smoky Easter Arts & Crafts Show, Dollywood's Flower & Food Festival and Bloomin' BBQ & Bluegrass.
Several events have been rescheduled to later dates. These include the Spring Corvette Expo (May 29-30), Spring Rod Run (June 11-13), Smoky Mountain Antique Car Show (August 19-22) and the Great Smoky Mountains Food Truck Festival (November 13-14). So there will be a car-show season this year, but it's just going to take place a little later than it normally does.
If you plan to visit anywhere in Gatlinburg, finding parking for businesses and events will once again be a consideration, but remember that we offer some of the most convenient and affordable parking lots Gatlinburg has to offer.
We also hope that if you come to town, you'll practice social distancing guidelines and consider wearing a mask. A lot of folks aren't comfortable wearing them in public, but remember that even if you feel fine and have no symptoms, you could still be carrying the coronavirus. Wearing a mask is a considerate way of helping protect those around you who may be especially vulnerable to the virus.
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.