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Despite the pandemic and being closed for a portion of 2020, the Great Smoky Mountains have broken monthly visitation records! More and more people came to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to experience the beauty of the area and take a much-needed trip away from home. Keep reading to learn more about the monthly visitation records in 2020:
Breaking the Monthly Visitation Records From August to December
In 2019, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hit an all-time high visitation record of 12,547,743 visits. This is the most visits the park has seen since it’s opening in 1934. In 2020, the park hit the 12 million visitor milestone again. Back in June of 2020, the national park saw a 7% increase in recreational visits. From August to December of 2020, the national park saw an increase in visitation for every month. Roads, trails, and campgrounds were all busier than in previous years, despite the park being closed for 46 days due to the pandemic.
What Makes the Smoky Mountains So Popular
There are several factors that make the Great Smoky Mountains so popular. First, it is the only national park within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the country. This makes it easily accessible to a ton of people. Second, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park doesn’t charge an entrance fee. Several parks in the west and midwest of the United States charge an entrance fee, but the Smokies don’t. Plus, the park is popular because of all the fun things to do!
Things to Do at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You probably are wondering what people do when they visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are several activities people can enjoy when they visit the park.
The number one activity to do in the Great Smoky Mountains is hiking. There are over 850 miles of hiking trails in the national park. You can choose from easy, moderate, or difficult trails. You can see waterfalls, wildflowers, and historic buildings along the hikes. No matter what you want to see, there’s a trail for it!
There are a ton of beautiful drives in the national park you can go on. The most popular drive is along the Cades Cove Loop. This is the most popular destination in the park, and for good reason! The possibility of seeing wildlife is increased in Cades Cove. You can stop along any portion of the road to explore historic buildings. Other drives people love include Roaring Fork Motor Trail and Foothills Parkway.
Another popular pastime in the Great Smoky Mountains is going on a picnic. There are several different places where you can have a picnic. You’ll find a picnic area near Cades Cove. There’s also one at Metcalf Bottoms, as well as Lookout Rock. You can pack a lunch, pick up a meal from a restaurant, or grill on the charcoal grills.
It’s easy to believe the Great Smoky Mountains broke visitation records. Learn even more about the Smokies before you visit!