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Visitation Continues To Slide At Great Smoky Mountains National Park


It might have been the weather, the doldrums of the economy, or the fact that Great Smoky Mountains National Park's 75th anniversary is two years gone. Whatever the cause, visitation to the park continues to slide.

Entries into the park were down by 2.5 percent for November 2011 as compared to November 2010. Visits year-to-date for calendar year 2011 are also off, by 6.4 percent, versus January through November of 2010.  The Park counted 8,537,228 visits so far this year, compared with with 9,121,026 in 2010.

All three of the Park's major entrances saw a decline for this November: Gatlinburg was off 6.4 percent, Townsend down 1.6 percent, and Cherokee slid 2.5 percent.

There were no obvious anomolies like road work or bad weather that would account for the decline, say park officials.


I visit the park every chance I get. I consider the Smokies my second home.  I believe it is nothing but the economy keeping people away.  I haven't noticed as many foreigners as I usually see up there.  It seems it is mostly the weekend warriors who are driving in and doing they thing and leaving.  I believe if the economy gets straightened out, everyone will be coming back.

I'm kinda glad to see the drop. The park is damaged more by the more people that are there, The traffic is a nightmare trying to get there. A little less pressure for awhile is a good thing for the park but probably not so good for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. This may also help clear the air pollution some. 
The numbers may return eventually, Or it may be like Yogi Berra said " Nobody goes there anymore , It's too crowded"  (8oD 

Isn't this good? Great Smokies has always been overcrowded. The park doesn't derive significant revenue from fees, especially roadside tourists. Fewer people means a better experince for everyone else in the park.

I stopped going years ago when the traffic got so bad, perhaps fewer cars will enhance the experience.

Yes, the Parks are sliding into the domain of the 1%'ers.  How ironic but predictable.

Perhaps another reason for the decline: the number of catastrophic natural disasters that have affected folks in many Southeastern states and all those within a day's drive of GRSM.  However, I hardly ever noticed a decline in traffic heading through the Sugarlands entrance or the flow of cars through Cades Cove. 

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