Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed over eleven 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% 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 of this special place,” Cash said. “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.
The busiest month in the Smokies was October, with 1.47 million visitors, followed by July with 1.46 million visitors. Even though October – the peak month for leaf peepers – didn’t offer the most spectacular leaf color due to an extended warm, dry summer and fall, other factors helped drive increased interest in the Smokies, Sanders said.