The government shutdown has had a landslide effect on metropolitan and rural areas across the country. But for those living in the mountains surrounding Lake Nantahala, NC, the federal shutdown means closing the door on our biggest source of revenue: tourism. Autumn generally marks an increase in bookings around our beautiful national park forests. When the leaves start changing, visitors from distant cities and neighboring counties of North Carolina lace up their hiking boots to explore the majesty and peace of our Nantahalan waterfalls, hiking trails, lakeside amenities, and campgrounds. Now guests from Charlotte, Atlanta, and Asheville are canceling their plans and unpacking their SUVs.
Lake Nantahala rests between two stunning national parks, both popular destinations for surveying the brilliant fall foliage of the mountains of North Carolina. US 441 is the only direct route remaining open into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Only 47 of their 326 employees are still working, most of them maintenance workers and law enforcement officials. Offices, campgrounds, shooting ranges, off-roading trails, and even bathrooms at both national parks have closed their doors to the public. So what’s the good news in all this red tape?
The Good News
Despite the many necessary closings, the staff members at our national parks are committed to preserving and enjoying nature. Tourists and locals alike can still enjoy hiking, fishing, and off-site camping. Additionally, the Nantahala National Forest is keeping a handful of campgrounds open: the Cliffside Day Use Area, the Van Hook Glade Campground, and the Standing Indian/Kimsey Creek/Hurricane Creek Recreation Complex will remain open to the public. Many federally funded services are not currently offered, so come prepared with outdoor essentials.
During the federal shutdown, bathroom facilities are closed and trash pickup has been suspended. Please respect the beauty of the nature trails, streams, lakes, and forests by removing all waste.