Visitor Experience Stewardship

Vehicular congestion along Cades Cove Loop Road.
Vehicular congestion on Cades Cove Loop Road.

NPS Photo

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is consistently the most visited national park in the country. It lies within a day’s drive of more than half the U.S. population and thus offers the opportunity for tens of millions of people to have a national park experience close to home while also drawing visitors from around the world. Providing a high-quality visitor experience has grown more challenging due to increasing visitation which has resulted in congested roadways, overflowing parking lots, roadside soil erosion, vegetation trampling, and long lines at restroom and visitor center facilities.
Graphical representation of annual park visits 2000 through 2022.
The chart shows annual visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park from 2000 to 2023.

NPS graph

Visitation Statistics

13.3 million visitors came to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2023 compared to the 10-year average of 11.5 million. Over the last decade, there has been a 42% increase in visitation. In 2022, park visitors spent an estimated $2.1 billion in local gateway regions while visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These expenditures supported a total of 32.6 thousand jobs in local gateway economies surrounding the park.

Past Work

Numerous visitors stand and sit along the viewing area in front of Laurel Falls.
Laurel Falls Congestion Management Pilot

In 2021, park managers piloted various congestion management solutions at Laurel Falls Trail.

Vehicular congestion at Clingmans Dome.

In 2020, park managers conducted visitor experience stewardship outreach to learn more about desired experiences across park sites.


Visitor Use Studies

Last updated: February 27, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



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