Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park Is Reopening
After suffering from devastating wildfires that forced 14,000 evacuations, took 14 lives, and damaged about 2,500 buildings, eastern Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park and neighboring resort town of Gatlinburg reopened to the public on Friday, ABC News reported. The fires first began on November 28.
Despite the town’s small size—population 4,000 year-round—Gatlinburg draws in about 11 million tourists annually, according to ABC News.
The fires also attracted extra press thanks to the proximity of Dollywood, a theme park named after and partially owned by Dolly Parton. The legendary country star is hosting a celebrity-stocked telethon on Tuesday, December 13 to raise money for the affected residents. The telethon will feature fellow singers like Reba McEntire and Kenny Rogers; already, Taylor Swift contributed $100,000 to her Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund for recovery efforts.
Parton has promised to provide $1,000 a month to families whose homes were destroyed in the fires.
Although the park is reopening, visitors should expect some closures of roads, trails, and visitor centers to remain in place, according to local reports.