The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its surrounding communities lost more in fall's federal government shutdown than any other national park.
According to a new report from the National Park Service, the Smokies averaged 1,176,720 visitors in October from 2010-2012. In 2013, in the midst of the shutdown, it had 847,616 visitors-- an almost 30% drop.
Fewer visitors means less spending. The park and its surrounding communities lost $25.6 million in visitor spending in October.
The park with the second highest reported losses was the Grand Canyon, with a $17 million loss. The Rocky Mountains lost almost $11 million.
Towsend's mayor says he's not surprised by the report. He says the town depends on the Smokies, and when the park was closed, he says Towsend was essentially shut down, too.
"It's my understanding that Pigeon Forge probably weathered it a little better because they have more attractions, retail outlets, things like that. And when I went over to visit Pigeon Forge, it did seem like a lot of folks were still coming in and kind of bottlenecking there. But without the ability for visitors to travel from the Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg area over to Townsend it basically made us a dead end community for those three weeks," said mayor Michael Talley.
Tennessee re-opened the park a day before the shutdown ended. The report estimates that cost the state $60,000, but it generated more than $2 million in park-related visitor spending.
Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters says that's why he worked to reopen the park early.
"Even though we were only able to open the park one day early, this report shows that one day has a significant impact to the local economy."
Overall -- the National Park Service lost $414 million in visitor spending in October 2013.