Smokies visitation tops 10 million

out visitationFor the first time in more than a decade, Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw more than 10 million visitors during 2014.

Last year, 10.1 million visitors came to the Smokies — an 8-percent increase over the previous year. Visitation had been slightly down in 2013, due in part to the federal government shut down that closed the park.

But last year was still 4 percent more than 2012, spurred by strong July and August visitation as well as the highest October visitation in 27 years. 

“We are honored to welcome so many people to the Smokies to enjoy America’s most visited national park,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. 

Overall, visitation was up by more than 400,000 from 2012 to 2014, but a huge portion is due to a traffic increase on the Foothills Parkway West, a through road on the Tennessee side of the park that more than doubled its count from 194,379 in 2012 to 507,842 in 2014.

Meanwhile, Cataloochee and Fontana Lake entrances posted a decrease from 2012. Oconaluftee also saw slightly decreased visitation, welcoming 1.91 million visitors in 2014 compared to 2.06 million in 2012. 

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