The nation’s most-visited national park is closing most of its property to visitors in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Great Smoky Mountains National Park said it had already tried to limit traffic by closing visitor centers, restrooms, campgrounds and other facilities. But 30,000 people continued to come into the park daily, according to National Park Service estimates. Crowds tended to gather at popular spots, such as Laurel Falls, Cades Cove and Newfound Gap.
The park says all visitor entry points, including trails, will close at noon on Tuesday. The closure will last through at least April 6. Foothills Parkway and the Spur will remain open.
While the park is closed visitors can make a virtual visit using NPS webcams. Rangers will still be able to answer questions during business hours by phone or e-mail, GSMNP said. Staff will let the public and the press know when the park re-opens, or when any adjustments are made to the closure schedule.
State parks in Tennessee remain open as of Tuesday afternoon.
This story was reported by WUOT.