Vehicle-Free Wednesdays in Cades Cove

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced the implementation of vehicle-free access on Cades Cove Loop Road every Wednesday, from June 17 through September 30. In an effort to improve visitor experiences and lessen times of traffic congestion, the park will study these effects through the summer.

 

History of Vehicle Free Access  

Vehicle-free time periods of 3 hours began in 1995. Over the last 25 years, use has continued to increase with up to 1,100 people a day cycling or walking along the roadway. During the morning closures, access to the campground, picnic area, horse concessions, store, and trails is blocked to accommodate parking for the biking/pedestrian opportunity on the Loop Road. As a result, traffic leading to the Cades Cove area is often gridlocked by a line of motorists waiting for the road to open at 10:00 a.m.

 

Summer 2020 Vehicle Free Wednesdays

Park officials have incorporated feedback from the planning process to assess the effectiveness of the trial in improving safety and the visitor experience. By closing the roadway for the entire day, bicyclists and pedestrians will have over 12 hours of daylight to use the Loop Road. This will allow available parking with less impacts to campground, picnic area, and concession operations. By eliminating Saturday morning closures, motorists will have access to Cades Cove on what is traditionally the busiest day of the week for travel.

 

The results of the pilot study will be evaluated by park management to inform future planning. Vehicle access will continue to be provided everyday, October through April, and six days a week during the trial period, June through September. Mobility-assisted devices are welcomed during vehicle-free days on the Cades Cove Loop Road for individuals with disabilities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/grsm.

 

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