The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is limiting access to the Whiteoak Sink area to protect a critical bat habitat.
Park Superintendent Cassius Cash says in a news release the closure of certain areas will minimize the human disturbance to the declining bat population as the bats emerge from their winter hibernation.
Hikers will be allowed to enter the Whiteoak sink area, but access to the waterfall and areas beyond will be closed off with orange fencing and signs.
The closure will continue through May 15. Park biologists will monitor the bat population, collecting data to develop a long-term protection plan.