News Release

Prepare for a busy Memorial Day weekend at the Smokies

visitors crowd at Laurel Falls

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
News Release Date: May 22, 2024

Contact: Emily Davis

GATLINBURG, Tenn.—The National Park Service is expecting high visitation at Great Smoky Mountains National Park over Memorial Day weekend. Visitors should plan their trip and expect crowds, traffic congestion, and limited parking throughout the park. Park rangers put together ten tips to help visitors prepare for the busy weekend.

Great Smoky Mountains Memorial Day weekend tips:
  1. Pack water, snacks, sun protection, cameras—and extra patience—for a safe, enjoyable weekend. Park rangers expect heavily congested roadways and full parking lots at most destinations. Arrive with a plan plus multiple back-up plans and consider starting your day earlier or later, before 10 am or after 3 pm. 
  2. Purchase your parking tag and park in designated spots only. The National Park Service does ticket and tow cars parked illegally, unsafely or in places that are damaging resources. Buy your tag online at or at in-person kiosk locations.
  3. Don’t stress about parking—consider a shuttle. More people visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park than Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Yosemite combined and demand for parking often exceeds capacity at the most popular destinations in the park. Relax and enjoy a shuttle ride from local communities to park destinations. 
  4. Check for closures and alerts on our website. Temporary closures and projects may impact travel and hiking. Single-lane closures are currently in effect for Newfound Gap Road at the Gatlinburg entrance and Lakeview Drive. Many trails have active maintenance projects or temporary obstacles. 
  5. Protect your personal belongings and secure your vehicle. Busy weekends coincide with an increase in thefts from automobiles as visitation increases along popular trailheads and parking areas. Remove valuables from vehicles, close windows and lock doors. If you see something suspicious, stay safe and tell a park employee or call 865-436-1230. 
  6. Know your limits. Check the difficulty of the park’s trails and select those that match your abilities. Carry a detailed trail map with topography and don't rely on cell connectivity for trail navigation. Most injuries result from slips, trips and falls, so please wear sturdy footwear and beware of loose gravel, slippery rock, steep climbs and uneven surfaces. 
  7. Drive responsibly. Slow down, stay alert and always wear your seatbelt. Use pullouts to allow faster vehicles to pass. Trailers, RVs and buses are prohibited on some secondary roads in the park, including Balsam Mountain Road, Greenbrier Road past the ranger station, Heintooga Ridge Road, Rich Mountain Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and the road exiting the park at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. 
  8. Leave no trace. Pack it in, pack it out—take everything you bring into the park out again to protect plants, animals and history. This also reduces the amount of trash park staff need to manage. Go before you go—use restrooms at visitor centers and trailheads before venturing out on trails. 
  9. Consider leaving your pet at home. Pets are only allowed on two park trails: Gatlinburg Trail (4 miles roundtrip) and Oconaluftee River Trail (3 miles roundtrip). A leash is always required. Pets are family for many, but not all visitors share this sentiment, and dogs can chase and threaten park wildlife. Learn more about pets in national parks
  10. Plan your accommodations. Campground reservations must be made on, but most of the park’s campsites are already reserved for Memorial Day Weekend. No campsites are available for request upon arrival. Backcountry camping, campfires and overnight parking are prohibited outside of designated campgrounds. 

Last updated: May 22, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



Contact Us