Home > Adventure Alert > Traveler Alert: I-40 Closed at NC/TN Border

Traveler Alert: I-40 Closed at NC/TN Border

November 18, 2009
Landslide on I-40

I-40 Landslide in Haywood Co, NC

I-40 at the North Carolina border of Tennessee is closed, but we have detour maps and information so you can plan your Thanksgiving travel.

In the early morning hours of October 25th, an impressive rock slide occurred on I-40, near mile marker 2, close to the Tennessee line. State DOT officials have determined the slide is about 150 feet high and between 200 to 300 feet wide.

This has necessitated of I-40 between Exit 20 in NC and Exit 451 in Tennessee.  The suggested detour would be to take I-26 from Asheville to I-81 at Johnson City, TN, then I-81 to I-40, near Knoxville, TN. (more details to follow)

Estimates are that the clean up will take about four months.   The last big slide, which occurred in 1997, took six months to effect repairs and clean up.  We will update as the project moves forward.

For your convenience, we have included a map and detour information, so that you can effectively make travel plans.  Although the detour is certainly an inconvenience and adds some time to travel plans, the route is scenic and may actually prove to add some travel interest as you make your way to your Thanksgiving destination.

Detour 1: Express Route via Scenic Interstate Byway

The NC Department of Transportation advises I-40 travelers from the west to take I-81 north to Johnson City, then I-26 East to Asheville. The I-26 route adds roughly 50 minutes to the travel time, and is one of the nation’s only interstate Scenic Byways. I-26 takes motorists through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains offering scenic observation points, a welcome center and stunning views of the highest peaks in the East.

Detour 2: Dixie Highway

Travelers coming from the west on I-40 may also take exit 432-B for US-25 South/US-70 East toward Newport. After Newport, TN, 25/70 becomes the Dixie Highway. Follow signs to stay on 25/70. Shortly after entering North Carolina,you will pass through the town of Hot Springs. Continue until you reach I-26. Take I-26 East to get to Asheville. This route adds roughly 30 minutes to the travel time and is a beautiful scenic mountain highway. Passenger vehicles only are permitted on this road–it is not a commercial travel route (i.e. motorcoach, RVs or dual-axle vehicles). Please consider possible weather and traffic congestion issues on this winding two-lane road.

Travelers heading west from Asheville to Cherokee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cataloochee Ski Area and points west should take Exit 27 off I-40 (Great Smoky Mountains Expy/US-19/US-23/US-74).

Asheville Visitor Information: ExploreAsheville.com | 888.247.9811

North Carolina Department of Transportation: NCDOT.org | 511 Travel Info Line | 877.DOT.4YOU

Photo and another article:


  1. marge
    November 24, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    If your destination is further north, you can avoid this bottleneck completely by taking 77 north to 64 west towards Kentucky. This route is a toll road, but, your EZ pass (or I Pass for Illinois former residents) works. Cash payers can expect $6.00 total for all 3 tolls. There really is not much time lost with this route and it is somewhat easier than the original!

    • Ani
      November 24, 2009 at 10:16 pm

      Thanks, Marge! Appreciate the alternate route info! Hope you have a wonderful Holiday season ahead (and smooth travels if you are planning a trip).

  2. November 25, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Wow, Ani. Had we known about this, as we approached the Tenn/NC border on October 30, we would not have found ourselves practically gridlocked in a small town that side of the Tennesee border.

    They were suggesting that we all take a road across the highway. As nightfall was coming, we (in a huge truck towing a car trailer) figured that we might get stuck in the dark on a small country road — so I whipped out my map and we got to see a bit of Virginia, then dropped straight down to Charlotte on the 77. 🙂

    • Ani
      November 25, 2009 at 9:46 pm

      I wish you had known about it, too! We are going to continue to post road closures (especially around Holidays). When people are traveling from out of state, they often will check their route online before leaving, and we have received an amazing response from people who were either unaware of the closure or needed a map of the detour route.

      One thing about it–if you had to make a detour, you were in gorgeous country! That region of Virginia is very picturesque.

  3. November 28, 2009 at 12:59 am

    Thanks, Ani. That would have been helpful … but, what the heck — it was quite the adventure. Not exactly comfortable the whole way, but we made it just the same.

    Thanks for your help and explanations in the forums — they truly did help.

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