I love the Great Smoky Mountains and have lived near the park for many years. But, I didn't realize how popular it was.
Not only are the Smokies popular, they are extraordinarily popular!
According to statistics gathered by 538, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most popular park in the country.
The Smokies have nearly 10 million visitors every year since 1996: more than twice as many as the next most popular park:
Why are the Smokies so popular?
it's one of the few national parks that charge no fee, and it's near Interstate Highway 40. That makes it an accessible drive from big cities including Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky.
This is not a new phenomenon. The Smokies have been America's most popular park since the Second World War (the park was officially founded in the 1930's):
I love the Smokies. You probably love the Smokies too. And it turns out that millions of other people do too.
Published Nov 12, 2013.
Anyone can thru-hike our nation's most popular footpath, if they can climb the 10 Highest Peaks on the Appalachian Trail.
More than 8 million visitors have come to witness the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2015, setting new records for visitation.
Published Feb 3, 2012.
Published Aug 16, 2014. Shelters in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park have been closed due to aggressive bears in the area.