Great Smoky Mountains National Park Breaks Record Number of Visitors (Again!)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park record breaking year for 2016

2016: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Breaks Record Number of Visitors AGAIN!

Once again, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw the largest number of visitors in its history! In 2016, over 11 million people visited the national park, totaling 11,312,785 which was a 5% increase over 2015. 

In 2016, over 2,200 people completed the Smokies Centennial Hike 100 Challenge by hiking at least 100 miles of trails in the national park.

In addition, over 2,230 park volunteers donated 117,000 hours of their time to help clean up and maintain the national park.

Thank you to all of our visitors and volunteers who help made 2016 a record-breaking year for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Previous Story: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Breaks Record Number of Visitors for 2015

Another Record Breaking Number of Visitors for 2015The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has broken a record number of visitors!

In 2015, the Great Smoky Mountains had the largest number of visitors in its history. In 2015, the national park had 10,712,674 visitors – breaking the record that was set in 1999.

Top 5 National Parks & Visitation Numbers for 2015

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 10,712,674
  • Grand Canyon National Park: 5,520,736
  • Rocky Mountain National Park: 4,155,916
  • Yosemite National Park: 4,150,217
  • Yellowstone National Park: 4,097,710

Great Smoky Mountains National Park BreaksGreat Smoky Mountains National Park Breaks Record Number of Visitors in 2014 image Visitation Record for 2014

In 2014, the number of Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitors reached a record! For the fourth time in the last 80 years, and the first time since 2000.

Over 10 million visitors made their way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2014 which is an 8% increase from 2013. By exact count, the national park documented 10,099,275 visitors.

In addition to breaking a record number of visitors, the national park experienced an unusually high number of visitors in October, marking October as the highest visitation month in the last 27 years. This is due in part to the high number of visitors who enter the national park to see the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains.

Overall, it was a wonderful year for tourism in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as visitation was up nearly every month in 2014.

How does the National Park Service count the visitors?

One of the most common questions is “how do they count the visitors?” The National Park Service uses a lot of different ways to tally the number of park visitors. These include things like: door counters that you might notice when you enter a visitor center, road counters, campground reservation numbers and surveys. Then, with a lot of calculations, they come up with the exact number of visitors to the park each year!

Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkView of the Smoky Mountain greenery

With so many great things to do in the national park, it’s not a surprise that so many visitors chose the area for their vacation in 2014. With everything from hiking, driving tours and visitor centers, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to spend time with friends and family for a getaway.

Here are some of our favorite things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

There’s over 800 square miles of hiking trails in the national park, so there’s definitely something for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner or an avid hiker, you will find trails that range in difficulty from easy to strenuous.

If you are hiking with small children, it’s best to take a look at the family friendly hiking trails in the national park. This way, your kids won’t get worn out easily and you’ll still be able to enjoy the national park without any fuss.

When hiking with your pet, remember the only pet friendly hiking trail on the Gatlinburg side of the Smokies is the Gatlinburg Trail which is easily accessible from Sugarlands Visitor Center.

View of Newfound Gap Road curving through the national parkDriving Tours through the National Park

Have you ever taken a driving tour through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Depending on the time of year, there’s a few beautiful driving tours. Of course, you can take a drive through the park anytime without taking the designated driving tour routes, but the driving tours are much more educational and informational, so you can experience the true beauty of the national park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitors like to take the Newfound Gap Road driving tour and Cades Cove Loop Road driving tour to see all of the beautiful sites in the Smokies.

View of trees and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail driving tourGreat Smoky Mountains National Park Visitors Centers

Tourism in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park peaks at different points throughout the year, but that never stops people from taking time to stop by a visitor center. All of the national park visitor centers are great for people of all ages.

The most popular of all of the national park visitor centers is Sugarlands. In Sugarlands Visitor Center, you will find a small wildlife and nature museum as well as a retail shop for souvenirs, maps, books and more. At the visitor center, you will also be able to talk to a park ranger about the trails and they will be able to help you answer any questions you have about the park.

Staying in a Cabin Near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When you choose to stay in a cabin near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll fall in love with the mountains all over again. Gorgeous views of the mountains paired with quality amenities will make your vacation unforgettable. We can’t wait to see you in the Smokies!

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  • Vincent Baril

    Thanks, for the information, as well as the photos. We’re planning to visit the national park and probably to make a driving tour. And last year during my trip to the Silk Road I discovered a cool and unusual place, with the same gorgeous views of the mountains.I travelled to Kyrgyzstan, and it is just amazing: wonderful peaks and very beautiful nature ))

    • Emily Arnwine

      Thanks for commenting, Vincent! Those mountains do look beautiful, but we’re glad you also love the Smokies! Which driving tour are you planning to do during your visit?