Smokies reports record number of park visitors in 2016
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park set a visitation record with more than 11 million visitors in 2016, officials announced.
A total of 11,312,785 people visited the national park during the National Park Service Centennial, representing a 5.6 percent increase over 2015, according to a park service news release.
Additionally, more than 2,200 people joined park Superintendent Cassius Cash in completing the Smokies Centennial Hike 100 challenge by hiking at least 100 miles of park trails during the year.
"I continue to be inspired by the number of people enjoying the park, but more importantly, I am moved by their unwavering support and care of this special place," Cash said. "This support is more critical than ever since we have entered into our second century of service and recovery following the Chimney Tops fire. The response of the Smoky Mountains community, both near and far, has been remarkable and we thank you."
More than 2,230 park volunteers also provided more than 117,000 hours of service during 2016, performing trail maintenance, invasive plant removal and providing visitor information along trails, at visitor centers and in campgrounds.
The number of backcountry visitors increased as well, with 109,344 people spending at least one night at one of the park's backcountry campsites or shelters - a 12 percent increase over 2015.
Source: Knoxville News Sentinel
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