The main access roads into Cades Cove and Cataloochee will be closed for several months this winter for road construction projects.
Laurel Creek Road, the seven-mile access road leading from the Townsend “Y” to Cades Cove, will be closed to all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians from Jan. 3 through Feb. 29 to repair the Bote Mountain Tunnel, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials said in a statement Saturday.
The full closure, beginning just past Tremont Road, is necessary to allow equipment setup for the repair of the internal drainage system in the walls and ceiling of the 121-foot-long tunnel.
Crews will enclose and heat the tunnel, allowing the temperature-sensitive repairs to be conducted during the winter months when visitation is lower. Intermittent single-lane closures will be necessary between March 1 and June 15 to complete the tunnel repairs and to repave the tunnel area.
The Cades Cove Campground, normally open during the winter months, will be closed Dec. 30 through March 5. To accommodate winter campers, Elkmont Campground will remain open year-round along with Smokemont Campground in North Carolina.
The Bote Mountain Tunnel, constructed in 1948, has not had any significant rehabilitation work since that time. Crews will replace nine drainage chases requiring track-mounted saws to cut through the concrete liner along the arc of the 18-foot-high tunnel opening.
Cracks throughout the tunnel also will be sealed and repaired. Without repairs, leaks will lead to compromised concrete walls and the development of ice hazards during the winter months, the park said.
Cove Creek Road
The main access road into Cataloochee, Cove Creek Road, is expected to be closed from Nov. 1 through Feb. 29 for roadwork while the North Carolina Department of Transportation repairs a slide just outside the park along the county road, park officials said.
This full road closure will prevent access into Cataloochee from this main access point. The Cataloochee area will remain accessible along old Highway 284, which is a narrow, winding gravel road leading from the Big Creek area of the park into Cataloochee Valley.
Weather permitting, this road may be closed at any time due to snow, ice or downed trees. This route is not recommended for low-clearance vehicles or trailers. The Cataloochee Campground is expected to reopen for the 2020 season by March 26.
For more information about road closures, follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm.