I myself, like many of you, probably watched numerous media sources airing the Chimney Tops 2 Fire roar it’s way through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Devastation, lives lost, and numerous people lost their homes, cabins, businesses and pets. I will be honest and say, I could never even imagine how horrendous this event could have been while it was happening.
I did not mention much here about a trip we had planned to this area since, while we were planning, this fire started and from what I read, really did a number on the area. We did end up changing our plans and moved one of our hotels from the Gatlinburg area to another city in TN. When we left for our trip, we had not even discussed hiking in the Smokies since everywhere I read said it was a loss, and that much of the park was closed or lost to the fire. There were debates whether the Sugarlands Visitors Center was burnt, debates about what trails were still open, and there were still bodies being found throughout the area as told to me by the hotel receptionist when I called to cancel our plans. Again, I could never imagine what these people all went through.
However, I am writing today to tell you the smokie’s are still there. Yes, some parts are burnt and some resorts/homes/cabins are just skeletons of charred lumber.
The Sugarlands Visitors Center is standing and is operating just fine.
The road to the Chimney Tops is closed with large orange barrels and most people we saw are respecting this closure.
We did drive through the town of Gatlinburg on the way into the park and found that most, if not all, business are open and are fire damage free. And there is no doubt it is still beautiful!!!!
Up above and on the bypass road in/out of the park thru Gatlinburg there was clearly more damage and I did not find it respectful to take photos of personal property that was loved and lost by so many individuals.
As for trails in the park, well, we only hiked three and they were open. I can not say for sure what ones are or are not open but the scenic drive is by no means a charred complete loss. This park is something to still admire. Grass and moss are already beginning to grow back a bright, beautiful green and in no time this entire area will be as good as new if not better than before. It’s no doubt this was a tragic thing to live through and my heart goes out to every single person who lived through this and to the families of those that did not.