Gatlinburg’s mayor thanks everyone for the donations after the devastating wildfires but Mike Werner says a great way to help is visit the area. The empty streets of Gatlinburg will fill back up on today, but these businesses were working hard Thursday to make sure everything is ready. They want to make sure no trace of the fire is anywhere to be seen. Many of the businesses on the parkway didn’t suffer any direct damage from the fire. Now all they need is help from those who love visiting the Smoky Mountains.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is scheduled to reopen to the public at 7 a.m. today. Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, the Gatlinburg Bypass and the portion of U.S. Highway 441 known as the Spur are slated to reopen at 7 a.m., and park visitor centers at Sugarlands, Oconaluftee and Cades Cove will resume their normal operating hours. Cherokee Orchard Road will remain closed, as will hiking trails within the fire footprint.
City officials plan for Gatlinburg to reopen at 7 a.m. as well. The public may enter through Pigeon Forge on the Spur, but city officials warn traffic delays could occur throughout the weekend.
The dining room at the Pancake Pantry, a local downtown landmark that typically has lines out the door, was about 40 percent full by 7:30 a.m. today, just half an hour after the city reopened to the public after a devastating wildfire last week.
Cars started trickling into Gatlinburg just before the sun rise Friday, including a parade of visitors, delivery trucks and workers headed to the tourist city’s candy shops and pancake houses.
At Kilwin’s chocolate, fudge and ice cream shop on the main drag, an employee painted the ceiling with the hopes of reopening the shop by the afternoon.
Ober Gatlinburg will reopen in two phases starting on Friday after massive Sevier County wildfires.
Ober Gatlinburg’s Downtown Tramway Mall will be open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Friday. The opening includes the Ski Mountain Grind Haus Coffee Shop, LeConte Deli, Tramway Gifts, Mountaineer Candy Kitchen, Silver Galleon, Miss Saddie’s Old time Photos, Spa to Go and the Green River Gallery.
On Monday, Ober Gatlinburg’s mountain location will reopen with regular operating hours to drive-up traffic only. Indoor activities opening Monday include the ice rink, carousel, Seasons of Ober Restaurant, the Loft Lounge, Sidewalk Café, the Market, the Fudge Shoppe, Ober Snack Bar, Ski Mountain Sports, Slopeside Apparel and Gifts, O’Bear’s Playhouse, the Galleria Logo Shop, Family Crests, Jensen Images and the Leather Shop.
The aerial tramway will remain closed until inspections are completed. A cable specialist arrived Wednesday to inspect the cables that move the Tramway.