Park sets visitation record, exceeding 11 million

By Brad Nottingham | Jan 15, 2017
Photo by: Brad Nottingham Waynesville resident Brad Nottingham captured this image in Cataloochee Valley last November.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed over 11 million visitors in 2016. Throughout the year, the park encouraged people to experience the park in honor of the National Park Service Centennial.

In 2016, a record 11,312,785 people visited the national park, a 5.6 percent increase over 2015. In addition, over 2,200 people joined Superintendent Cassius Cash by completing the Smokies Centennial Hike 100 challenge by exploring 100 miles of park trails.

“I continue to be inspired by the number of people enjoying the park, but more importantly, I am moved by their unwavering support and care for this special place,” said Superintendent Cash. “This support is more critical than ever since we have entered into our second century of service and recovery following the Chimney Tops fire. The response of the Smoky Mountains community, both near and far, has been remarkable and we thank you.”

In 2016, over 2,230 park volunteers donated over 117,000 hours of service. These volunteers provided much needed help across the park including trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, and providing visitor information along trails, at visitor centers, and in campgrounds. Front country camping at the park’s developed campgrounds increased to 327,033 campers, up 3.1 percent over 2015. In addition, backcountry camping also increased with over 109,344 campers spending a night at one of the park’s backcountry campsites or shelters, up 12 percent over 2015.

For more information about visitation, please go to the National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics web page at https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/.