Visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is up 5.5 percent through September 2015. Over 8 million visitors have come to the park so far this year. The increase has led to record months of visitation in both May and September with visitation surpassing 1 million visitors during each month. In September, the park welcomed 1,081,773 visitors, the most ever since the park began recording monthly visitation in 1979.
With over a million visitors during each of these shoulder-season months, the park is well above the ten-year average of 750,000 visitors during May and 900,000 visitors during September. The increased visitation has also led to increased use of the park’s two main visitor centers, campgrounds, and backcountry campsites. Overall, overnight camping in the frontcountry is up 8.7 percent in 2015, while backcountry camping is up 11.4 percent.
“The Smokies continue to be one of the premier destinations in the southeastern United States,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “This record setting visitation on our shoulder seasons reminds us that no matter when you come to the Smokies the opportunities for exploration, relaxation, and discovery are endless whether you’re on one of our busy scenic roadways or less traveled areas.”
This year’s record setting visitation follows the park’s busiest year in 14 years. In 2014, 10,099,275 visitors came to the national park, an 8% increase over 2013. The numbers were spurred by strong July and August visitation as well as the highest October visitation in 27 years.