GSMNP and LeConte Lodge Closure
In conjunction with the temporary closure of Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to the COVID-19 outbreak, LeConte Lodge will also be closed to all visitors. Please read the Park’s most recent press release posted earlier today for details regarding these and other closures. Currently the closure is expected to last from noon today through April 6, 2020.
Guests with reservations after April 6th should refrain from contacting our reservations office at this time so as not to inundate our phone lines. Our staff is working expeditiously to contact the guests with reservations directly affected by the closure now through April 6th. Anyone with reservations beginning April 7th onward are being asked to check back at the beginning of April with our reservations office, especially as circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and this closure could change.
LeConte Lodge will remain under continual surveillance, but there will not be a daily blog from the top during the closure. Only updates regarding the closure itself and information pertinent to guests with reservations will be provided on our social media pages at this time.
Thank you for your patronage, stay safe, and we look forward to hosting you soon.
Park Closes to Support Regional COVID-19 Prevention Efforts
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that all park areas, except the Foothills Parkway and the Spur, will close at noon on Tuesday, March 24 through Monday, April 6, in a continuing effort to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The park will continue to assess changing conditions in our region and work with local communities to extend or terminate closures, as appropriate to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local residents.
All access to the park, including trails and roads, will temporarily close in alignment with efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 across the region. This includes Executive Order 117 issued by NC Governor Roy Cooper, Executive Order 17 issued by TN Governor Bill Lee, Executive Order 6 issued by Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Graham County travel restrictions, Pigeon Forge, TN Safe-at-Home Advisory, and requests to close or partially close the park received from Swain County, Sevier County, and Bryson City, NC.
Despite park efforts over the last week to comply with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance for social distancing, approximately 30,000 people entered the park daily resulting in congested conditions at popular locations such as Laurel Falls, Newfound Gap, and Cades Cove. Visitors from across the country have flocked to the area due to Spring Break, wildflowers, and warm weather conditions. This two-week park closure allows the park to support local efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
During the closure period, visitors can experience the park using digital tools including our social media platforms and website where near real-time views can be seen via park webcams at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm. Park rangers can still help answer questions via email or phone during business hours at (865) 436-1291, (828) 506-8620, or GRSM_Smokies_Information@nps.gov. The NPS is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19 and adjusting measures to control its spread. We will notify the public as we are able to resume operations and will provide updates on our website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm and social media.
March 23, 2020
As a concessionaire of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we operate under the regulations and advisement of the National Park Service. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have taken additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus based on the recommendations of the NPS, even more so now that the lodge is open to visitors. The lodge is just one of numerous full service businesses in and around the park still open to the public at this time. Currently all roads and trails providing access to Mt. LeConte remain open by the NPS. We continue to monitor the situation and enact additional precautionary measures as recommended. Our reservations office is working diligently with guests who have reservations during the next two weeks, to ensure that those willing and able to visit our lodge have an experience that is safe and as enjoyable as possible. Guests are also being directed to stay up-to-date with the latest information regarding COVID-19 here in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by visiting www.nps.gov/grsm.
March 22, 2020
We started the weekend out right, with supremely sunny skies much of the day. We were able to resume flying by mid afternoon but a pesky cloud rolled up on our staging side and kept us from finishing. Skies so far are looking cooperative, so hopefully this morning we can have our resupply wrapped up. Still plenty of prep work being done by the crew, but we’ll be ready to start hosting folks on Monday!
Yesterday’s high temp was 47°, and we finally saw our first chilly night in a while, the overnight low getting down to 31°. Today looks to be mild, and there is a chance of increasing clouds and rain shower later in the day. Our opening week is expecting to start with plenty of rain, so come ready for wet conditions if you are hiking up to help us kick off the season.
Have a great day.
March 21, 2020
What a productive day Friday was! The weather actually worked out quite well for us to start the day as we were able to get a handful of supplies delivered before the first wave of storms reached Mt. LeConte. But that didn’t halt our progress. With the bulk of our necessary supplies in hand, the crew was able to move on to the next level of preparations before we can open for the season. Our frenetic pace will continue throughout the weekend as we look to wrap up our annual Airlift and put the finishing touches on the lodge.
Yesterday’s high temp came in at 52°, and our low was 40°. Conditions are currently cloudy, although we actually saw starry skies in the middle of the night. The rain appears to be done for the time being so hopefully things open up in time for the last bit of flying.
You may recall back in 2017 when we revamped the lower section of the grand staircase that leads folks into our dining hall. Well, Brian is back to reconstruct the next flight of steps between Old and New Lodges. Here’s a look at his progress, and we can’t wait to the see the finished product.
Have a great weekend!
March 20, 2020
It was a waiting game for the first half of Thursday, but finally our patience was rewarded once the skies cleared. After several hours of good flying, we were able to get in a great deal of our provisions. We still have some work to do, so still expect temporary grounds closures while we try to wrap things up before the season.
Yesterday’s high was the new max for the year so far...56°. Our low was just 46°. Current conditions are clear with a storm bearing down on us from the west. Winds also picked up during the night. Rain is expected to last through much of today and early Saturday. We’ll see how it shakes out.
Time to get back at it. Lots to do!
March 19, 2020
Well yesterday just didn’t pan out when it came to flying. The clouds were tap dancing all over both locations and finally just decided to sit on us. Even got some light rain during the late afternoon. You wouldn’t have guessed that would be the guess given how stellar the night prior and sunrise was. The high temp was 47° with a low of 41°, and we tallied 0.1” of rainfall. It’s currently cloudy with an occasional light breeze.
Our folks are continuing to be optimistic and finding ways to work hard in preparation of the season. No wind or rain is going to dampen their spirits. A wonderful evening was had in the dining hall singing an assortment of bluegrass and folk classics. Thanks to the talented Troy for providing the tunes on the guitar!
Great Smoky Mountains News Release
Park Modifies Operations to Implement Latest Health Guidance
Great Smoky Mountains National Park continues to take steps to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing. As of Thursday, March 19, seasonally open campgrounds at Smokemont, Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Cosby will no longer accept fees on-site. All campers must reserve and pay for sites online at recreation.gov to minimize the exposure risk for park employees and visitors.
In addition, the park is suspending reservations for gatherings at the following park facilities through April 30: Appalachian Clubhouse, Spence Cabin, Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church, Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church, Cades Cove Methodist Church, and Smokemont Baptist Church. All requests for reservation cancellations for campgrounds, picnic pavilions, churches, and Special Park Use permits will be honored with a full refund without cancellation penalties.
At this time, seasonally open park campgrounds, picnic areas, roads, trails, and restroom facilities located adjacent to Visitor Centers remain open and accessible to the public. Effective immediately, backcountry campers and A.T. thru-hikers with reservations at one of the park’s 15 backcountry shelters are authorized to use a tent outside the shelter to provide for social distancing.
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.
The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.
For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.
Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about current conditions in the park, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.
HEALTH & SAFETY STATEMENT
As a concessionaire of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we operate under the regulations and advisement of the National Park Service. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have taken additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus based on the recommendations of the National Park Service, even while being closed for business during our winter off-season. Numerous areas and businesses in and around the park accessible to the public remain open at this time. We continue to monitor the situation and enact additional precautionary measures as recommended. Our reservations office is working diligently with guests who have reservations in the coming weeks to ensure that those willing and able to visit our lodge have a safe and enjoyable experience. Guests are also being directed to stay up to date with the latest information regarding COVID-19 here in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by visiting www.nps.gov/grsm.
March 18, 2020
We’re hoping for a long day of flight time today. It’s currently crystal clear skies with a light fog muting the city lights waaay below. Moonrise is about to giveaway to sunrise making for a beautiful morning. As long as conditions stay his way, we’ll be running around throughout the daylight hours. That will also mean lodge grounds will be closed to public access.
Yesterday’s high temp was 44° and the low was 40°. Throughout the day it misses and poured, totaling 1” by the time all was said and done.
March 17, 2020
After a long day of waiting for the weather to cooperate so we could begin flying in the first of our supplies, we finally received a small window of opportunity. It didn’t last long before the clouds returned, but it was enough to help us feel like a mostly beautiful day didn’t go wasted. The rest of the evening was spent enjoying some delicious catering provided by our sister property, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe of Knoxville. In what has become an annual tradition, our team greatly appreciates such delicious food prepared and delivered by some great folks to keep us going.
Momday’s high temp was 48°, and our low was 38°. Intermittent rain showers dominated the night, and we’re still socked in after receiving 0.55” of liquid precipitation. Appears that will be the case most of the day. Hopefully conditions improve in time for Wednesday so we can resume some serious flying. In the meantime, our awesome crew will keep whittling away at what they can to get this place primed and ready for fun-filled season atop Mt. LeConte.
Stay dry, stay safe, and have a great day!
Welcome to the official blog of LeConte Lodge. We hope you find the information provided here both helpful and enjoyable. Thank you for visiting the site, and we hope to see you on the mountain!