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Elkmont Campground now requires a reservation.

In time for the crush of Labor Day weekend crowds, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will reopen all of its campgrounds that had been closed since March for COVID-19 safety mandates, according to the Citizen-Times.

Starting Sept. 3, the following campgrounds will reopen:

  • Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee and Cosby Campgrounds, and Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom and Tow String Horse Camps.

The only campground to remain closed is Look Rock on the Tennessee side of the park, which is still closed for rehabilitation, said spokeswoman Dana Soehn. All group campsites remain closed.

Heintooga and Look Rock picnic areas and Little Greenbrier Road will also reopen Sept. 3.

The threat of catching the coronavirus hasn’t seemed to deter people from coming to the Smokies, however. The Smokies, which spreads across a half-million acres on the mountainous terrain between Western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, is the most visited national park in the country.

Last year a record 12.5 million people visited the Smokies.

Parkwide, visitation for the first half of the year is down about 27%, from nearly 5.3 million visitors January-June 2019 to 3.8 million for the same time period this year.

“Which was to be expected. But, in looking at the time period when the park has been open, our visitation is up,” Soehn said.

For June, the last month for which numbers are available, the Smokies had an increase of nearly 7% in overall recreational visitation over June last year.

This is the highest visitation in June recorded in park history with nearly 1.6 million visitors, Soehn said.

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