Visitation Down At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Are the Smokies losing their allure? Visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park was off 9.5 percent in October from year-ago levels, and down nearly 7 percent for the year. NPS photo.

Visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park was down 9.5 percent in October, and for the year it is down almost 7 percent, according to park officials.

October 2011 visitation totaled 1,133,530, which was down 118,827 from October 2010.

Year-to-date visitation to Great Smoky is down by 6.7 percent, a reduction of 568,330 visitors from year-ago tallies. Through October, visitation to the park was 7,931,485 versus 8,499,815 for the first 10 months of 2010.

All the park's main entrances showed a decline for the month: Gatlinburg entries were off 6.8 percent, the Townsend entrance saw a 5.2 percent decline, and visitation through the Cherokee entrance was off 4.6 percent, according to park officials.

Great Smoky officials say there were no obvious anomalies of weather or park road construction that would account for this substantial decline. They speculated that the decline might be related to a combination of a flat economy and higher fuel prices.

Comments

"They speculated that the decline might be related to a combination of a flat economy and higher fuel prices"...
If National Park officials believe this they are deluding themselves. Gas prices have remained relatively flat over the last year or even declined slightly and the Parks remain an unbeatable cost value compared to other vacations. The issue here, as in many National Parks, are massive numbers of people are leading to a decrease in the pleasure factor in these Parks. Rush hour like traffic, overcrowded trails and lodging, maxed out facilities, trails, and vistas, pollution, and trash, are all degrading the experience in these parks. The National Park getaway is increasingly looking like a dreaded trip to the mall.