After multiple documented reports of visitors feeding and attempting to hold a young bear in recent weeks at the Lane Pinnacle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway officials are closing a portion of the scenic route from milepost 367.6 near the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area to milepost 375.6 at Ox Creek Road.
This section will close Monday, October 30, until further notice. Park visitors can access Craggy Gardens recreational area via NC80 from the north; however, until the road reopens, the visitor center at milepost 364.5 will remain closed.
“We are closing this section of the road temporarily for the safety of both the bear and park visitors,” said Superintendent Tracy Swartout. “When people intentionally attract bears with trash and food it can lead to very dangerous situations. In this instance we want to give the bear a chance to lose interest in the area before the situation escalates and visitors or the bear are harmed.”
Fall is a critical time of year for bears. Between September and November bears may forage for food up to 20 hours a day as they attempt to put on weight for the winter and hibernation. During this time bears actively seek out natural foods but will also take advantage of human foods when presented with the opportunity.
Park staff want to remind park visitors and neighbors to keep food out of sight and follow all bear safety tips available on the Parkway’s Bear Safety web page and at BearWise.org. If you encounter a bear while on the Parkway, call (828) 298-2491 or stop at the nearest Visitor Center to report the encounter.