(WBIR - Scott County) Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area is 125,000 acres of outdoor beauty surrounded by Scott, Fentress, Morgan, and Pickett counties. It's said to be one of the area's biggest secrets that offers all sorts of outdoor activities like camping, hiking, hunting, and horseback riding.
"I think it's wonderful to have a park like this," said Ann Drothler of Cumberland County.
Drothler and her husband, Paul, frequently visit the national park where they enjoy trekking the many trails while taking in sights with every step they take.
"I enjoy the birds that I see when I'm here. I enjoy the wildflowers. But I also like the swimming pool," said Ann.
"This is probably one of the nicest parks that we have in all of middle and east Tennessee. Lots of very unique things to see," said Paul.
The married couple said they've been visiting Big South Fork for at least the last 10 years. They are among the 565,063 visits the National Park service said Big South Fork got in 2013. In the National Park Service report, it's said those visits brought $16,294,7000 to the local economy.
National Park Service: 2013 National Park Visitor Spending Effects
"Folks who visit the Big South Fork region, they spend money in our hotels, our restaurants, cabin rentals, and our stores. That money, in combination with our tax dollars, all gets reinvested back into our community," said Brandon Hughett, president of the tourism committee for the Scott County Chamber of Commerce.
But 2013's numbers were slightly lower than the year before. In 2012, a similar report from the National Park Service revealed Big South Fork saw 600,161 visits. That generated $16,923,000 in revenue.
Regardless, it's still some much needed money for an area that's seeing tough times.
"Scott County has struggled over the last few years with manufacturing jobs leaving and things like that and so the tourism dollars just help boost our economy," Hughett said.
Although Paul and Ann Drothler enjoy the quiet of the park, they're hoping Big South Fork's visitation will pick up among people and keep it from being one of the area's biggest secrets.
"It's just a great place to be," said Ann.