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The traffic to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park isn’t slowing down. It just keeps breaking records! More than half a million visitors were reported by the National Park Service in January of 2021. This area doesn’t see numbers like that until about March. Keep reading to find out more about the Great Smoky Mountains getting half a million visitors in January 2021:
More than Half a Million Visitors Just in January
Typically traffic to the national park doesn’t reach these numbers until March when spring is in the air. In January of 2021, the National Park Service reported that 525,801 recreational visits were made. This past January is the busiest on record for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This newest record comes right after other monthly records being broken at the end of 2020.
Most Popular Places in the Great Smoky Mountains
The Smokies have been a popular place to visit, and visitors keep coming for more. You’re probably wondering where some of the most popular places are in the park. Here are the top popular places in the Smoky Mountains:
The most popular destination in the entire national park is Cades Cove. This is an 11-mile looped road where you can drive and see incredible mountain views, meadows, and possibly even wildlife. You can stop your vehicle any time and explore throughout the area. You can walk inside historic buildings, such as cabins and churches. There are also several hiking trails throughout the loop, including Abrams Falls. People of all ages enjoy driving through Cades Cove.
The most popular hiking trail in the national park is Laurel Falls. This trail is considered easy and is 2.6 miles roundtrip. The trail is paved, making it easier to navigate for some people. Families and people of all ages love this trail. When you reach the top, you’ll see Laurel Falls. It is 80 feet tall and splits into two sections. You walk across a footbridge so you can stand in front of the falls for pictures.
Another popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains is Clingmans Dome. This observation tower is one of the tallest elevations in the entire park. The hike to get there is considered easy, but it is steep. The trail is also paved, and there are several benches along the path in case you need to rest. On a clear day, you can see over 100 miles away at the top of the observation tower.
How to Avoid Crowds in the Smokies
We understand if you don’t want to come in contact with a ton of people while you’re exploring the Smokies. Here are a few tips on how to avoid crowds in the Smokies:
Don’t Visit Popular Spots
We did just mention some of the most popular spots in the Smokies, but if you want to get away from crowds, you should probably skip these popular spots. Some beautiful areas of the park that aren’t as crowded include Elkmont and Greenbrier. There are also several hiking trails where you can skip out on the crowds.
Skip Popular Times During the Day
Many people go exploring during the late morning and mid day. If you want to avoid crowds, you should visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon. There will be less people out and about during these times, so you are less likely to run into others on more popular trails.
Time of the Week
The weekends are an extremely popular time in the national park because people aren’t working. If you want to plan a trip when there are less people in the area, plan a trip in the middle of the week.
Want to learn even more about the Great Smoky Mountains? Learn all about the national park before you visit!