GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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It doesn't snow much at the lower elevations of the Smokies, but in winter the higher elevations of the park frequently get heavy snow. Newfound Gap, at nearly a mile high, gets almost 5 feet of snow in the average year. You can check on the amount of snow on the ground at the higher elevations by visiting the park's Web cam at Purchase Knob, on the North Carolina side at about 5,000 feet (www.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/grsmpkcam/grsmpkcam.cfm). Some roads, including Clingmans Dome Road and Balsam Mountain Road, are closed in winter, and even the main road through the park, Newfound Gap Road, closes when there's snow and ice, cutting off access to snowy areas. If Newfound Gap Road is not closed, you can enjoy cross-country skiing and hiking in the snow along Clingmans Dome Road, which is closed to vehicles in winter. For weather information, call 865/436–1200, Ext. 630, and for road closings, Ext. 631.