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Park rangers looking for public's help to help ease congestion in the Smokies

Since 2009, the GSMNP said annual visitation to the Smokies has increased by 32%, creating problems such as congested roads, overflowing parking lots, and more.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is asking for public feedback on ways it can improve congestion and visitor experiences in the Smokies.

Since 2009, the GSMNP said annual visitation to the Smokies has increased by 32%, creating problems such as congested roads, overflowing parking lots, soil erosion, vegetation trampling, and long lines at restrooms and visitor facilities. The park has continued to see record visitation numbers year-after-year, most recently with a record 12.5 million visits in 2019.

The GSMNP will be holding a few two-hour virtual workshops in October that will teach people about the current state of park visitation and strategies used to manage traffic and visitor congestion. People will also be able to provide input on how to help at the park's most popular destinations, including Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Alum Cave, Laurel Falls and more.

Workshops will be held on the following dates:

  • Monday, October 19 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 20 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. 
  • Thursday, October 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Those interested should sign up online at this link by October 14.

“We look forward to working hand-in-hand with our local communities and visitors from across the country to thoughtfully address growing challenges associated with extremely high visitation,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Congestion at the most visited park in the nation is complex, but we believe by working together, we can find solutions that help us continue to protect the park and provide better experiences for millions of visitors.”

People can also give input without needing to the attend the workshops by sending comments by October 31. People can submit those online at this link, or by at the following address:

Visitor Experience and Stewardship

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

107 Park Headquarters Rd

Gatlinburg, TN 37738