Visitor center, campground ready for reopening
The Visitor Center at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park will reopen on Tuesday, June 9 with the Wilderness Road Campground reopening on Thursday, June 11 as phased accessibility continues following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities. The National Park Service (NPS) continues to work servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities in closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
The Visitor Center will be open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. During the Visitor Center’s initial opening, the museum, auditorium where park films are shown, and the sales area operated by park partner “America’s National Parks” will continue to remain temporarily unavailable. Only 10 visitors at a time will be allowed inside the visitor center. Rangers will also be staffing an outside information desk to minimize the number of visitors accessing the building. Visitor Center guests will be treated to new and exquisite wilderness murals painted by artists Cora Pat and Laurie Jean Conger, both members of the Cumberland Gap Artists’ Co-op. As the paintings grace the Visitor Center lobby windows, visitors can view from outside.
The Wilderness Road Campground, with its 160 woodland sites, is on a first-come, first-served basis. To minimize person to person contact, fees are being collected in an iron tube located at the campground entrance; visitors are asked to pay in cash. Sites with electricity are $20.00 per night; sites without electricity are $14 per night. All sites are one-half price for Interagency Senior and Access Pass holders.
All park visitors are reminded to practice social distancing, to wear masks when appropriate, to engage in frequent handwashing, and to postpone visits if they are not feeling well.
“The health and safety of our park neighbors, visitors, volunteers, partners, and staff members continue to be paramount. At Cumberland Gap, we are examining each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance,” said Park Superintendent Charles Sellars. “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.”
While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. Gap Cave and Hensley Settlement tours remain suspended. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, and avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Park staff will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on the park’s website www.nps.gov/cuga and social media channels https://www.facebook.com/CumberlandGapNHP/ and https://mobile.twitter.com/CumberlandGapNP. Visitors can also call 606-248-2817. NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.
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