News Release

Changes in Park Operations due to COVID-19

Backcountry Camping

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
News Release Date: March 18, 2020

Contact: Christopher Derman, 423-569-9778

In response to an increase in confirmed novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Tennessee, and new guidance from the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Park Service (NPS) announced a number of operational changes to Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area and Obed Wild & Scenic River.

The latest guidance recommends that all Americans should reduce travel, practice social distancing, and avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people. The National Park Service, and the NPS staff at Big South Fork NRRA and Obed WSR, take this seriously. 

4/05/20 UPDATE:
The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that effective 9:00 AM (ET), Monday, April 6, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area will be closed to all visitors until further notice. No entry will be allowed on park property, except to employees, residents, and other authorized persons. Through traffic is permitted

Read More

3/30/20 UPDATE:
Effective Monday, March 30, Big South Fork will close all campgrounds, restrooms, and visitor centers until further notice. The park remains open for day-use.  

Read More

3/27/20 UPDATE:
Effective immediately, Leatherwood Ford Day Use Area, to include the parking area, and restroom facility are closed. The park remains open for day-use.  

Read More

3/23/20 UPDATE:
Effective Monday, March 23, Big South Fork will close all campgrounds until April 1. The park remains open for day-use.  

Read More

Effective Tuesday, March 17:

Interpretation and Visitor Services
  • All park visitor centers and will be closed until April 1. 
    Visitor centers closed until further notice 3/30  Read More
  • Restrooms remain open at this time and NPS staff are working to maintain clean and healthy facilities in accordance with CDC guidance. Restrooms are closed until further notice 3/30
  • All ranger-led programs and activities are cancelled until further notice. Park interpretive rangers will be roving park trailheads and trails to provide park information and answer questions.
  • Bandy Creek, and Alum Ford Campgrounds are open and sites are available first come, first served. Payment is done on-site.
    Park campgrounds closed until further notice 3/30  Read More
  • Backcountry reservations made online through are valid.
  • Park staff are currently unable to write backcountry permits in-person. Backcountry reservations can only be made online.

Commercial Outfitters
  • All activities will be restricted to parties of 10 or less, including guides and drivers.
“We realize these changes have a big impact on the visiting public, and the economic livelihood of local businesses and employees,” said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas. “With restrictions being implemented across the nation, these actions are necessary for the health of park visitors and employees. We appreciate the support and understanding of the American public.” 

The COVID-19 virus situation is changing daily, and the NPS continues to monitor the local, regional, and national situation on a daily basis and will adjust or lift these limits as appropriate as the situation changes. Unlike in a government shutdown, park employees will continue to work subject to health and safety concerns, and with new procedures to maximize their safety. Park staff will endeavor to do as much of the NPS mission as we can under the trying circumstances.

For more information and updates about NPS park and facility closures will be posted on

Last updated: April 5, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

4564 Leatherwood Road
Oneida, TN 37841


(423) 569-9778

Contact Us