The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is within a day’s drive of about half of the population of the United States and is the most visited national park in the U.S. Here are a few other interesting facts about the park.
AVERAGE ANNUAL VISITORS TO THE PARK
Between eight and ten million people visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park annually.
LENGTH OF ROADS AND HIKING TRAILS
The park contains nearly 400 miles of roadways, most of which are paved. The park also has over 800 miles of hiking trails.
AVERAGE RAINFALL PER YEAR
The average annual rainfall in the highest elevations of the park is around 85 inches.
NUMBER OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS
Before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, the area was home to numerous families and small communities. The park contains nearly 100 historic structures dating to the 1800s, including log cabins, farmhouses, barns, churches, schools and other buildings.
AVERAGE NUMBER OF BEARS PER SQUARE MILE
The average number of bears per square mile in the park is about two. The total population of bears in the park is about 1500.
The average visible distance in the park is 25 miles. Visibility has decreased markedly in the years since the park’s founding due to air pollution. Visibility also varies seasonally due to increased humidity in the summer that causes hazy conditions and mist/fog that can occur at any time of year.
AVERAGE NUMBER OF NATURALLY OCCURRING WILDFIRES PER YEAR
Great Smoky Mountains National Park experiences around two fires per year that are caused by lightning. Whenever possible, park authorities allow the fires to burn because of the beneficial aspects of fire for the forest ecosystem. Controlled burning of some areas is also practiced.
Lower elevation areas of the park receive infrequent snowfall. However Newfound Gap, one of the highest peaks, receives an average of 69 inches of snow a year—almost six feet!
NUMBER OF DIFFERENT TREE SPECIES
The park contains over 100 different tree species. Most of these are deciduous, which leads to beautiful fall scenery that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.