Park visitation rises
Traffic into Great Smoky Mountains National Park was up 7.5 percent, or 676,997 more visitors than recorded during 2011. Visitation for the 2012 year totaled 9,685,828 compared with 9,008,835 in 2011. This is the highest number of visitors since 2000 when the park saw 10.1 million people.
Park officials attribute the mild weather experienced during the winter and spring of 2012 to the increased visitation for the year. More people were able to travel into the park and be outdoors due to the lack of ice and snow on the roads and trails. The mild weather in the shoulder seasons and warm summer set the tone for visitation as every month of 2012 saw an increase of visitors over those recorded in 2011.
December 2012 park entries were 480,527 compared with 471,603 as seen in December 2011. This is a 1.9 percent increase over December 2011. Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg and Cheorkee was closed due to ice and snow on all or part of 6 days during December, but the holiday season brought a large number of visitors to the park during the latter part of the month.
Park Entrances December 2012 visitation:
Gatlinburg: 175,205 visitors
13 Outlying Areas: 128,592
For a complete look at all National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics, please visit https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/