Visitors flock to Smoky Mountains park for reopening day

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — The reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a little too tempting of a draw as scores of nature lovers from dozens of states crowded trails and trekked into blocked-off areas.

A park spokeswoman on Saturday said parking lots were packed and lines of cars snaked down tree-lined streets.

Many people did not wear masks. Visitors also walked past heavy barricades on one of the park’s most trafficked trails, Laurel Falls, which was closed off to heed federal social distancing guidelines.

On the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the Great Smoky Mountains is the county’s most visited national park.

It was closed March 24.

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