Cades Cove now vehicle-free all day on Wednesdays

Cades Cove Loop Road will now be vehicle-free on Wednesdays beginning June 17,2020 through September 30 as part of a pilot study to improve visitor experience in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

For several years, Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the summer have been offered as vehicle-free periods until 10:00 am so that cyclists and pedestrians can better experience the area. However, congested parking areas and disruption of visitor services associated with this schedule prompted the park to propose the study.

In total, 2,278 people from 37 states submitted comments on the proposal. More than 60 percent supported the trial change, and 20 percent opposed it. About 15 percent said they would like to see Sunday morning closures continue but also supported a full-day closure on Wednesday.

Closing the roadway for the entire day will give bicyclists and pedestrians more than 12 hours of daylight to use the Loop Road without vehicles, and spreading use throughout the day is expected to improve the parking situation. By eliminating the Saturday morning closures, more motorists will have access during the busiest day of the week, and park staff and volunteers will be able to better support visitor programs on Wednesdays and Saturdays instead of devoting all personnel to traffic management and parking.

Park management will evaluate results of the pilot study to inform future actions. Vehicles will be able to access the area seven days per week October through April, and people with disabilities are invited to use mobility-assisted devices on the road during vehicle-free days.

Cite…

 

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