[Jan 10, 2018, 8:49 PM]
RALEIGH, N.C. — The partial federal government shutdown might force travelers to adjust their plans, but North Carolina offers a wealth of places for winter camping, experiencing nature and exploring history. Here are the federal sites impacted by the government shutdown and alternatives that remain open.
Find a campground at a North Carolina State Park at northcarolinastateparks.reserveamerica.com. From the reserveamerica.com homepage, you can launch a search by location to find private campgrounds as well.
Blue Ridge Parkway
According to last update of the real-time conditions map, many sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway were closed because of weather conditions. Along sections that remain passable, federal visitor centers, comfort stations and other attractions staffed by the National Park Service are closed.
State parks along the parkway — including Stone Mountain and Mount Mitchell — are not affected by the shutdown. Chimney Rock and Grandfather Mountain, signature off-the-Parkway attractions, are open as weather permits. Check the website for information about weather-related closures.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Park facilities are closed, though scenic U.S. 441 is open to traffic. Outdoor experiences in the Smokies and nearby ranges can be found through travel bureaus such as greatsmokies.com (Bryson City), visitncsmokies.com (Haywood County), discoverjacksonnc.com (Jackson County) and grahamcountytravel.com (Graham County).
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
The seashore itself remains open, and all parking areas are accessible. Off-road vehicle ramps are open, though new ORV permits are not being issued. The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, a National Park Service concessionaire, is unaffected by the shutdown. The Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island lighthouses had closed for the season before the shutdown.
Cape Lookout National Seashore
Island Express Ferry Service, the seashore’s official concessionaire, is unaffected by the shutdown. Transportation to Shackleford Banks, home of a herd of wild ponies, and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse area is available unless the weather dictates otherwise. Note that the lighthouse had closed for the season before the shutdown.
All sections of the trail are accessible, though services provided by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service are unavailable. Find details from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at appalachiantrail.org.
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
Most sites on the hiking and driving trail are accessible unless conditions force closure.
Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, Pisgah’s Cradle of Forestry and other facilities staffed by the U.S. Forest Service are closed, but roads through the vast mountain forestlands remain open. In the southern mountains, hikers and mountain bikers might opt for Gorges State Park or DuPont State Recreational Forest, and outfitters can help adventurers with Nantahala Gorge excursions. In northern Pisgah Forest, state parks and natural areas — including Elk Knob, Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell — are open unless weather conditions force a closure. Check websites for current information.
Uwharrie National Forest remains accessible, though facilities staffed by the U.S. Forest Service are closed at the 51,000-acre expanse in central North Carolina. Morrow Mountain State Park affords land, lake and river recreation, and the North Carolina Zoo sits on the opposite side of the forest.
At coastal Croatan National Forest, facilities staffed by the U.S Forest Service are closed, though roads remain open. As an alternative to this forest of longleaf pine, evergreen-shrub bogs and wetlands, Goose Creek State Park in Washington provides a similar backdrop and recreation options.
National historic sites
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock is closed. For a literary fix, Asheville is home to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, the rambling Victorian boarding house known as Dixieland in “Look Homeward, Angel.”
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is closed, though access is possible through the adjacent Greensboro Country Park. Moores Creek National Battlefield, whose entrance is gated, is closed. For a pre-Revolutionary War battlefield experience, the Alamance Battleground State Historic Site in Burlington interprets events from 1771.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site site is closed, though the lovely Elizabethan Gardens remains open. In the heart of Manteo, Roanoke Island Festival Park examines the history of America’s first English settlers with a representative 16th-century sailing ship, an American Indian Town, a settlement site and a museum.
Wright Brothers National Memorial is closed, but visitors can connect with the namesake aviators’ airborne adventure at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Hang gliding and kite flying are among the available activities, and Kitty Hawk Kites offers a soaring experience on a replica of the 1902 Wright Brothers glider.
The 11 federal wildlife refuges in North Carolina are all closed. State parks and properties within the North Carolina Coastal Reserve provide another way to experience many of the species protected on the federal sites. Here’s a general geographic rundown: