Great Smoky Mountains breaks all national park attendance records!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Hosts 12.5 Million Visitors. Great Smoky Mountains National Park broke it’s all time annual attendance record. 12,547,743 visitors explored the park in 2019, which is 1,126,540 more visitors than in 2018. These visitation numbers secure the park’s place as America’s most visited national park again. The park’s three main entrances near Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Cherokee all had increased use. These areas accounted for about two-thirds of the total park visitation. The Metcalf Bottoms entrance near Wears Valley experienced tremendous growth, due primarily to the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley. Over one million visitors enjoyed this new scenic driving experience.
“I am very proud of our employees who work hard each day, along with our volunteers and partners, to help provide outstanding visitor experiences and to protect the resources that people come here to enjoy,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “With growing visitation, this has become more challenging. In 2020, we’ll be inviting people to help us thoughtfully look at how we can improve access and continue caring for this very special place.”
Please be respectful when entering the home of Smoky Mountain critters. Keep a safe distance of at least fifty yards and never approach or feed the animals. Photo credit – ABR
Monthly visitation records were also broken during the months of January, March, April, May, June, and December. April and May had the most visits to the park with approximately one million people. Prior to 2015, park visitation had never exceeded one million visitors per month before summer and fall months. September now regularly exceeds one million visitors too. Visitor concerns over traffic congestion, busy restrooms, and over-full parking areas are nothing new but now occur throughout the entire year. These are some of the issues the park will be exploring over the next year in an effort to provide better access, experiences, and stewardship of the park.
Our favorite park has long been considered “loved to death.” There are many opportunities for you to get involved to improve the park experience for yourself and others. Stay tuned to HeySmokies.com to learn about volunteer opportunities and help us make a difference. Remember the Great Smoky Mountains is the ONLY national park in America that does not charge an admission fee so please be generous when you encounter park donation boxes.
Source material – GSMNP