GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials want the public to share ideas on how they can improve visitor experiences and alleviate congestion around some of the park’s busiest destinations.
Through the workshops, participants will learn about the current state of park visitation and be introduced to congestion management strategies. Participants will be asked to provide input on Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Deep Creek, Big Creek, Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Laurel Falls.
“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,” GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash said. “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.”
Since 2009, annual visitation to the Smokies has increased by 32%, resulting in congested roadways, overflowing parking lots, roadside soil erosion, vegetation trampling, and long lines at restrooms and visitor center facilities. The park received a record 12.5 million visits in 2019 and has set monthly visitation records in June, July, and August in 2020.
In small online groups, participants will be asked to provide input on how the park might improve visitor experiences and alleviate congestion at these busy destinations.
The public is invited to attend facilitator-led workshops online with park managers on the following dates:
- Monday, Oct. 19 — 2-4:15 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 20 — 6-8:15 p.m.
- Thursday, Oct. 22 — 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 6-8:15 p.m.
Participants must register for the virtual workshop by filling out an online form by Wednesday, Oct. 14. Once registered, participants will receive instructions and a link to join the online workshop.
The public may also submit input without participating in the workshops either online at parkplanning.nps.gov/grsmves-survey or by regular mail.
Visitor Experience and Stewardship
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Comments are due by Oct. 31.