GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Record numbers of visitors to the Smokies are in the works. Data from the National Park Service is already showing visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 2021 have already surpassed last year’s and there are two months left of data to compile.
However, 2019’s total numbers currently hold the record at 12,547,743. GSMNP officials had said at the time that visitors were more consistently reporting traffic congestion, busy restrooms, and over-full parking areas throughout the year; efforts were made over the last several months to ease those issues.
With the holiday season fast approaching, the visits to the park will likely increase. In November 2020, there were more than 1 million visitors and in December 2020, there were more than 777K.
GSMNP spokesperson Dana Soehn said in September that with more people come more safety concerns.
“On the weekends and during holiday periods the roadways can be extremely congestion and we’re really concerned about the safety of our motorists as they’re trying to make some of those turns at those intersections.”
Here’s a breakdown of the number of recreation visitors in 2021 to the Smokies:
January – 525,801
February – 502,459
March – 931,060
April – 1,169,469
May – 1,363,183
June – 1,539,247
July – 1,730,987
August – 1,398,161
September – 1,355,599
October – 1,633,547
November – No data yet
December – No data yet
Current Total: 12,149,513
The National Park Service reported in late September that it was working on a safety improvement plan along the Spur since nearly 50,000 cars each day drive along the road connecting Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge. The Spur also serves as a primary entrance into the park.