Blue Heron Overlook, along the loop trail of the same name, in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area | Photo: Ben Garrett

Good news: Big South Fork reopens

Posted on May 4th, 2020 | © | All rights reserved

Oneida, Tenn. — Exactly four weeks after it closed due to coronavirus concerns, the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area will reopen on Monday, May 4, 2020.

The National Park Service announced Sunday afternoon that all trails will reopen on Monday, and backcountry camping will once again be permitted. The park closed on April 5.

Restroom facilities will not reopen at this time, nor will developed campgrounds like Bandy Creek or Station Camp.The stables at Bandy Creek will remain closed, as will visitor centers at Bandy Creek and Stearns.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Big South Fork, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored,” said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas. “We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.”

The NPS said a return to full operations will be phased, meaning services could be limited temporarily. The BSF encourages visitors to follow local health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC recommends that people not visit parks if they are sick or were recently exposed to Covid-19. The CDC also urges against using playgrounds, or participating in organized activities.

While in the Big South Fork, visitors are urged to remain at least six feet from others at all times. Avoid gathering with others outside your household, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and bring hand sanitizer if soap and water will not be available.