Even our government can’t shut down Mother Nature!
Although our government, (and to be clear, we’re not taking sides here!), has opted to shut down all of our national parks, there’s still much to see and do here in the mountains of Western North Carolina this fall.
It’s true that most of the services supported by the Federal Government have been temporarily closed. It is particularly unfortunate here in the mountains, as this is our peak tourism season. Guests descend upon our area from across the country, and the world for that matter, to take in one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular shows. During the month of October, visitors enjoy fantastic weather and are awed by the vibrantly colored leaves; from magenta to deep crimson, from bright yellow to ochre and everything in between. One of the amazing things about October in the mountains is that you can travel just a few miles and, by altering your altitude, you will experience a completely different rainbow of colors. There are many country roads in addition to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway that offer incredible long range views of our colorful mountains as they put on their annual performance.
So, how has the shutdown affected us? Here’s a little about what you can and can’t do:
BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY – The Blue Ridge Parkway is still open! You can enjoy all of the breathtaking views from your car or motorcycle. However, restrooms, picnic areas, campgrounds and visitor centers are closed.
SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK – US 441, the highway that cuts through the park from Cherokee up to Gatlinburg is open. However, restrooms, picnic areas, campgrounds and visitor centers are closed. The 800 miles of backcountry hiking trails are officially closed, but it is not expected that they will be monitored.
NANTAHALA AND PISGAH NATIONAL FORESTS - Pisgah’s Cradle of Forestry and other facilities staffed by the U.S. Forest Service are closed, but roads through the vast mountain forestlands remain open. This includes Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Yes, you can still visit Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls just off of US-276.
STATE PARKS, FORESTS AND ATTRACTIONS – The impasse at the federal level has not affected our State facilities. Chimney Rock, Elk Knob, Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell are still up and running as usual. Additional options are the DuPont State Recreational Forest or Nantahala, both of which are in full swing. Here you can enjoy mountain biking, hiking, zip-lines, whitewater rafting, etc.
TAIL OF THE DRAGON, CHEROHALA SKYWAY, THE RATLER (Hwy 209) – All of these popular roadways remain open.
APPALACHIAN TRAIL – Though it remains accessible, the trail is officially closed, and volunteers from federal programs will not be on duty.
We urge caution when using any federal trail during the shutdown as there will be no one maintaining them. Always make sure someone knows where you will be and when you expect to return.
And, The Biltmore Estate, which also offers amazing fall vistas, cannot go without mention!
If you have any other destinations or activities in mind and are not sure if they will be available to you…JUST CALL US! We will make every effort to find out whether they are affected or not. But, the most important message we want to convey is, there is still much to do, to see, to experience here in the mountains. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the very best that Mother Nature has to offer!