By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter
GATLINBURG (WATE) – Everyday that the government shutdown continues, that’s another day that national parks have to remain closed including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee.
The majority of the park is off limits, like the picnic area, campgrounds and visitors centers.
But thousands of tourists are still taking advantage of the sections that remain open, especially since one of the favorite scenic spots in the park has just opened back up.
Because many of the scenic spots on Highway 441 through the mountains are still open, tourists came flooding in on Saturday, soaking in the mountain views.
“It’s breathtaking. We are getting some color at the top of the mountain which is wonderful,” said Cara Turner, visiting from Chicago.
“People come from all over the United States to visit the Great Smoky Mountains,” said Brent Goodin of Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Saturday was the best day for it since the shutdown began, as arguably the best vantage point to see all the views is now back open.
The Newfound Gap Parking Area is open now, originally closed at the start of the shutdown.
“I’m really glad that this parking lot is open because this is the staple. We have to take our picture by the state line. So I’m really glad that it was open,” said Turner.
Many of the tourists are in East Tennessee on annual trips.
“We do it every year. Every year,” said Goodin, visiting with his wife and two sons.
They were worried when they heard the park was closed, thinking it would prevent them from using their favorite scenic spot.
“Oh my gosh it would have been a completely different experience because this is just where you stop,” said Turner.
“So glad to be able to see such wonderful panoramic views,” said Goodin.
They’re beyond grateful that even though the parks closure has derailed some of their plans, the shutdown couldn’t take away their favorite part; miles of picturesque views.
“At least we could have one particular stop on the route that we’re so used to doing,” said Goodin.
“It’s gorgeous. It’s starting to turn fall so the leaves are a little golden,” said Turner. “The air is clean and clear and it’s a really good family spot. I love seeing the families and tourists and you’re up here enjoying everything together.”
“If you’ve never been here you need to come on out,” said Goodin.
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