Thursday, January 27, 2011

Great Smoky Mountains historical visitation trends

Last week the National Park Service Public Use Statistics Office reported that the Great Smoky Mountains ended the year with a total of 9,463,538 visitors to the park in 2010.

I was curious to see what the historical trends were for this measure of the country's most visited national park. This same website also provides annual visitation count data going back to 1931. Here's a look at the total number of visitors by year:

It might be a little tough to see from this graph, but the park reached the one million visitor milestone for the first time in 1941, just as the United States was getting ready to enter into WWII. During the war years, visitation declined significantly, just as you might expect. However, in 1946, the first full year after the war, visitation jumped above one million mark again, and never looked back.

From 1946 through 1977, the park experienced almost uninterupted growth. 1977 was also the first year visitation pushed through the 9 million mark. Since that year, and up until the present, the number of visitors has basically trended within a range of 8 - 10 million visitors per year. On three occasions the park has exceeded the 10 million mark. Interestingly, since 2001, the Smokies has seen a tighter range of visitors flowing into the park, averaging just above 9 million visitors per year.

You can click here for a few more visitation stats for 2010 and the month of December.


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