Great Smoky Mountains National Park has announced its spring opening schedule for Park facilities, including secondary roads, self-registration campgrounds, and concession operations.   Numerous Park facilities will open Friday, March 10.
Roads –  The secondary roads that are set to open on March 10 include:   Little Greenbrier, Rich Mountain, and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.  Clingmans Dome Road is set to open on April 1 and the Heintooga Ridge Road will open on May 12.
The Balsam Mountain Road will remain closed while work is being performed to replace the low-water crossing with a new one-lane steel bridge at the junction of Straight Fork and Balsam Mountain Roads.  The road will reopen once the work is completed, expected by July 21, 2006. Parson Branch Road remains closed due to damages caused by major flooding in past years.  The Park received storm damage funding in 2005 and is currently working with the Federal Highway Administration to complete design work.  It is expected that work will get underway late this year and the road should open for the 2007 season.
Work has started to repave a 10-mile section of the Newfound Gap Road on the North Carolina side of the Park between Collins Creek picnic area and Newfound Gap.  Visitors can expect one lane closures at varying times during weekdays, but not on weekends.Operating Hours for Visitor Centers – The three visitor centers are open daily and the operating hours through March are as follows: Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, hours will be 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
The National Park Reservation Service (NPRS) provides visitors an opportunity to make reservations at three of the Park’s developed campgrounds, plus group campsites, horse camps, and picnic shelters. Reservations can be made up to 5 months in advance by calling 1-800-365-2267 or by Internet at http://reservations.nps.gov.
Family Campgrounds open on a staggered basis starting March 10. (See the following schedule for exact dates.)
Three of the Park’s 10 campgrounds are on NPRS from May 15-October 31: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont.   Camping fees are $14 per site at the smaller, more primitive campgrounds, $17 at the more developed campgrounds, and, at the reservation campgrounds during the period May 15-October 31, sites will cost $20 per night.  In addition, Elkmont riverside campsites are $23 per night.
Campers have an opportunity to camp in “generator free” campsites for the 2006 camping season at three campgrounds:  Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont campgrounds.   Campers can reserve a generator free site in the following sections of Cades Cove and Elkmont campgrounds:  Cades Cove Generator Free, Elkmont Walk-In, Elkmont Riverside Generator Free, and Elkmont Main Generator Free.  At Smokemont, while there is no separate generator free designation, several loops are managed as tents only and generator free, and RV campers who prefer a generator free site can state that preference when making a reservation.
Group Camping will be available at seven campgrounds (see schedule for opening dates) and reservations must be made through NPRS.  Group camping is available at Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Cades Cove, and Smokemont.  The cost for group camping ranges from $26 to $65 per site/night.
Horse Camps at Anthony Creek, Big Creek, Cataloochee, and Towstring will open April 1 and reservations are only available through NPRS. Round Bottom will remain closed until the construction work on Straight Fork/Balsam Mountain Roads is completed. Horse site fees are $20 at all horse camps except for Big Creek where it is $25.
Picnic Areas – There are 10 first-come, first-serve picnic areas. Open all year are Big Creek, Cades Cove, Chimney Tops, Cosby, Greenbrier, Deep Creek, and Metcalf Bottoms.  Collins Creek Picnic Area will open on March 10 and Heintooga and Look Rock are scheduled to open on May 12.  The Park’s largest picnic pavilion at Twin Creeks opens on May 1 on a limited basis.  Due to the construction of the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center, Twin Creeks Picnic Pavilion will be available only on Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays for the entire season.  Reservations are required through NPRS only.  Twin Creeks fees ranges from $35-$75 depending on the number of people.   In addition, picnickers can reserve five other picnic pavilions on NPRS.  They are located at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Greenbrier picnic areas.  The cost is $20, except at Greenbrier where it is $10.
Horseback Riding is available at four horse concession operations in the Park. The rates are $20 per horse per hour.   The Smoky Mountain and Sugarlands Riding Stables are scheduled to open March 15, weather permitting.  The Cades Cove Riding Stable will open March 17 and Smokemont Riding Stable starts up April 1.  In addition to horseback rides, Cades Cove Riding Stable also offers buggy rides ($7.50 per person) and hayrides ($6 per person), as well as special ranger-led hayrides ($8.00 per person).
LeConte Lodge, accessible only by trail, will open on March 20. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 865/429-5704, fax 865/774-0045 or e:mail [email protected] One night at the lodge costs $89 per adult and $72.50 for children 10 and under (tax not included).  The price includes two meals–dinner and breakfast.
Campground Concessions – The Cades Cove Campground Store will open for business on April 1.  The store provides groceries, and camping supplies, firewood and ice, bike rentals, vending, limited food service and souvenirs.  The Elkmont Campground concession will open March 10.  The concession provides firewood, ice, and vending of soft drinks, newspapers, and snacks.  Smokemont Riding Stables provides firewood, ice and soft drink vending.  Firewood is available on a self-service basis at Balsam Mountain Campground.

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