A landslide closes the main passage through the Great Smoky Mountains

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Newfound Gap Road, the main passage through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was blocked by a rockslide on Wednesday.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Photo

UPDATE: The National Park Service announced the reopening of Newfound Gap Road around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday after “the removal of 50 meters of debris”. The original story is below.

A winding two-lane road that serves as the main passage through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been temporarily blocked by a rockslide.

It happened around 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Park Service.

A photo shared by park officials shows a mix of rocks, dirt and trees strewn across the traffic lanes under the cover of darkness.

The park reported no injured motorists. No driver reported seeing the slide when it happened, the park said.

“Newfound Gap Road is closed until further notice due to a rockslide that has occurred near mile marker 13,” the park said in a news release.

“Park staff are currently working to mitigate the issue in order to open the road as quickly (and) safely as possible.”

Newfound Gap Road is 31 miles long and “is the only fully paved road in the park and the only one that runs through the center of the park,” according to SmokyMountains.com.

“The scenic route travels between the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, up and over the mountains and all the way to Cherokee, North Carolina,” the site reports.

A roadblock is in place near the Sugarlands Visitor Center on the Tennessee side of the park, and sites such as the Smokemont Campground are only accessible “from the North Carolina side,” officials said. responsible.

Park officials did not say what could have caused the rockslide, but it comes just a week after the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred dropped up to a foot of rain on parts of the mountains.

Several landslides on the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway and tourist sites in the Pisgah National Forest were restricted due to flood debris. Sliding Rock has been closed and Looking Glass Falls is restricting visitors to the upper viewing platform until a half-acre timber traffic jam falls over the falls, McClatchy News reported.

This story was originally published August 25, 2021 10:36 a.m.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering topics including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with a major in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

Virginia F. Goins