Visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park jumped by 19% in October when compared to the same time last year.
According to National Park Service Reports, 1,252,357 visitors experienced the fall colors this October, making it the highest number of visitors for the month of October since 1987 when 1,576,500 people passed through park boundaries.
During this past month, each of the entrances to the park reported increases versus the prior year:
* Gatlinburg was up 8.2%
* Townsend jumped 18.4%
* Cherokee increased by 13.4%
* The 13 outlying areas were up by a whopping 45.9%
Other parks around the region also reported huge increases in visitation during the month of October:
* Blue Ridge Parkway reported an increase of 10.2%
* Shenandoah National Park jumped 29.8%
* Cumberland Gap National Historical Park saw an increase of 14.4%
Is this a sign that the economy is starting to turn around? Either there's a lot of pent-up demand for people to get out of town, or maybe the fall colors put on an extraordinary show this year.