Record 12.5 million visited Smokies last season

Associated Press • Jan 29, 2020 at 4:40 AM

Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw a record 12.5 million visitors in 2019, a 1.1 million increase over 2018, the park announced Monday.

A news release from the park says monthly visitation records were toppled in January, March, April, May, June and December of last year.

The park’s three primary entrances near Gatlinburg, Townsend and Cherokee all had increased use, accounting for about two-thirds of the total park visitation. Secondary park entrances experienced major growth primarily as the result of the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley.

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“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,” Superintendent Cassius Cash said in the announcement. “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.”

Click here to visit the park website.