Cumberland Gap national park reopens to public

Published 3:46 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

After five weeks of being caught up in the middle of a partial federal government shutdown, the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park reopened to visitors over the weekend.

“This is a very special place and we are just so happy to be back,” said Carol Borneman, who handles public relations for the park. “We are just excited to greet visitors because we just want to share our beautiful park.”

While the partial federal government shutdown was taking place, some of the park’s areas were accessible. All trails remained open but Pinnacle Road was closed and there were no services provided by the National Park Service. All restrooms and public buildings, including the visitor center, were closed as well.

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“A lot of people in the tri-state area may not realize the huge economic impact that the Cumberland Gap National Park has upon the tri-state area,” said Carl Nichols, director of the Cumberland Gap Region Tourism Association. “The park brings approximately 800,000 visitors per year and approximately $50 million annually in tourism spending to the area. The park’s closure for the duration of the government shutdown negatively affected the economy of this area by approximately $4-million.”

Visitors were happy to hear about the reopening. After the park’s Facebook page was updated Saturday with the news, the post was shared 28 times within a few minutes and received several comments from community members.

“Glad to have you all back!” Natalie Heather posted, while Joanie Roper responded, “So glad you are back to work, we missed you!”

On Saturday, Donna Bowling took advantage of the park reopening by making a visit and posting her excitement, “Loved going back into the visitor center today!” Carol Dyer Osborne also posted, “Makes me happy.”

Due to the cold and ice remaining on Pinnacle Road, it will remain closed for now.