We know that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the United States.
This year, the park recorded the highest October visitation in 27 years with 1,261,104 people visiting the park. October is traditionally the second busiest month of the year for the national park, driven by visitors coming to see the park’s fall foliage. In case you’re wondering, July is number one because of family vacations.
Although visitation through the park’s major entrances at Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Cherokee was up, outlying areas led the way in making this month the fourth highest October on record. Visitation at the outlying areas of the park in October was 73% above the 20-year average. Outlying areas include places like Foothills Parkway, Cosby, Big Creek, Greenbrier, Deep Creek, Cataloochee, and Abrams Creek.
Last year, even with much of October being closed, thanks to our recalcitrant Congress, the park recorded 9,354,695 visitors. For a long time, the Blue Ridge Parkway was the most visited park unit but it’s slipped – with only 12,877,368 people on the Parkway. Golden Gate National Recreation Area tops all the units at 14,289,121visitors. Incidentally, Golden Gate also tops every park units in number of volunteer hours, even the Appalachian Trail.
But how do they count each and every person? The methods may not be accurate down to the actual visitor but I assume that they use the same techniques for each park. All these statistics are available to us at https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/. Look at the website. It has a fascinating amount of information, including how they count.