Cades Cove closure expected to last until March

The entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Gatlinburg is shown in this file photo.

GATLINBURG — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is shutting down for two weeks in an effort to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, according to a news release from the park.

The nation’s most visited national park has been attempting to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for social distancing. However, about 30,000 people entered the park each day last week and some popular sites like Laurel Falls, Newfound Gap and Cades Cove were congested, according to the release.

The two-week closure began Tuesday at noon and will continue through April 6. It includes all trails and roads with the exception of Foothills Parkway and the Spur, a section of U.S. Highway 441 that runs over park land.

During the closure period, visitors can view the park through webcams. Park rangers can still help answer questions via email or phone during business hours. Park officials will continue to assess changing conditions, and updates can be found on the park’s website and social media sites.