Smokies Announces Extensive Vista Clearing Project
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (865) 436-1297
Whenever the National Park Service has surveyed visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park about their planned activities while in the Park, the number one response has always been "viewing scenery - scenic views." Over the years the number and quality of those scenic viewpoints along Park roads has gradually declined. When Park roads were constructed, the forests had been extensively logged and often burned in pre-Park days, leaving unobstructed views in every direction, but 75 years of forest recovery has resulted in many of the scenic overlooks becoming obscured by maturing trees.
Over the next few months a Park contractor will be rolling back this "natural clock" by reopening 34 of the most popular roadside vistas along the Park's main roads. Park officials say that this will be the first major vista-clearing initiative in decades.
Motorists can expect to see vista management under way from April 1 through August 1 along Newfound Gap Road, Clingmans Dome Road, the East and West Foothills Parkway, the Gatlinburg Bypass, Rich Mountain Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Lakeview Drive and Cataloochee Road. No roads are expected to be closed to complete the work, but the overlooks being cleared will be closed as needed to accomplish the work safely.
Did You Know?
Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the park. This equals a population density of approximately two bears per square mile. Bears can be found throughout the park, but are easiest to spot in open areas such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley.