News Release

Park takes steps to increase parking safety near busy trailheads

Four cars parked on grass along a roadway. The road is framed by lush greenery, resembling summer time.

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News Release Date: December 12, 2022

Contact: Emily Davis, 865-436-1207

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin implementing temporary, single-lane road closures at several locations this week for the installation of permanent roadside protection measures at busy park destinations to eliminate unsafe, damaging roadside parking. Over the last decade, extremely high use at several park destinations has resulted in unsafe conditions for motorists and pedestrians, increased roadway congestion, and damaged roadsides.  

“It’s critical that we protect iconic park destinations from the unintended consequences associated with too many people trying to squeeze into the same places at the same time on the same days,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Through this action, we’re helping ensure that people have the opportunity to safely visit in a manner that respects the country’s most visited national park.”      

Motorists should expect single-lane, weekday road closures through March at any of the following locations: Newfound Gap Road near the Gatlinburg, Alum Cave and Chimney Tops trailheads; Little River Road near Laurel Falls trailhead; Cherokee Orchard Road; and Big Creek and Deep Creek picnic areas. Roadside protection measures such as boulders, split-rail fencing, and wooden bollards will be installed along these roadways as well as sections of Clingmans Dome Road and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.  

Visitors should plan ahead and come prepared with alternative destinations in case they do not find parking available at desired sites. By carefully choosing the time of day, time of year, and day of the week, visitors can help improve their chances of obtaining a safe parking space within designated, durable parking areas even at iconic destinations. If safe parking is not available at the destination of choice, visitors still have many options for exploration. The park offers more than 800 miles of trails and more than 380 miles of scenic roadways. Staff are available to assist in trip planning, seven days a week, at Sugarlands Visitor Center, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and the Backcountry Office.  

For more information about the congestion and visitor use management efforts, please visit the park website.


Multiple cars parked on the roadside while other cars drive by with break lights on. People are standing near cars and trying to cross the road.
Many popular trailheads are overcrowded, creating unsafe conditions for both drivers and pedestrians.

NPS Photo

Last updated: December 12, 2022

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