National Park Visits Up in 2012

The attractions may come and go, seasons will change, and restaurants will open and close, but there’s one thing that stays pretty consistent around here: people want to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They want to experience it, write about it, take pictures, video it, and let others know what great natural attraction it truly is.

How do we know this you ask? It’s all in the numbers. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park showed a nearly 9 percent increase in visitors this year to date. And just as the busy fall foliage season winds to a close, the even busier holiday shopping season gets its wheels turning.

The National Park Service released its figures recently showing that 963,317 people visited the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkĀ  in September. This amounts to a 9.2 percent increase over September 2011’s numbers. Will it continue into the holiday season? Most remain optimistic that a busy fall will lead to a just as busy winter with the number of area events, shopping opportunities, and seasonal attractions like Ober Gatlinburg opening even earlier this year.

Looking at the trends, through the first nine months of 2012, visits to the park were up 8.9 percent. That’s 602,000 more people that came to the Smokies this year than in the first three quarters of 2011.

Meanwhile, September is traditionally considered a transitional month that usually sees a dip in national park visits between Labor Day and the beginning of the fall color season in October.

Related links: Take a look at Ober Gatlinburg’s plan for an earlier opening thanks to new snow-making equipment.

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