Smoky Mountain Nat’l Park Sees High Number of Visitors in 2023


National park visitors continue to make the Smoky Mountains their No. 1 destination, year after year. According to new reports from the National Park Service, the park welcomed over 13 million visitors in 2023, marking its second-highest year ever recorded.

There’s no doubt that visitors can’t get enough of what the Smokies has to offer. Especially in the summer and fall months, people flock from all over to get a glimpse of the park’s majesty. With over 800 hiking trails and an endless amounts of wildlife and plants, there’s no shortage of things to do in the park. From June to October, the park welcomed over one million visitors each month. 

In the last ten years, the Smokies averages 12 million visitors annually. In 2021, the park hit a record high when over 14 million people chose the park as their ideal destination, as the COVID-19 pandemic led people to venture more outside. 

Although outdoor enthusiasts continuously make the Tennessee-North Carolina park their favorite pick, it has downsides. From hours-long traffic delays to park closures to fatal accidents, an increase in visitors can mean less-than-ideal outcomes. 

Experts looked at the number of deaths that occurred in national parks between July 2013 and July 2023 to determine the most dangerous national parks in the country. As for how the GSMNP fared, it ranked number four on the list, with 104 deaths in the last decade. 

In addition, more than a third of the fatalities were driving-related. Moreover, most of the fatalities happened in September, when the park saw an influx in visitors. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic 469-mile route that takes drivers through Virginia and North Carolina, was the fifth-most deadly park. It saw 100 fatalities in the last ten years, with car accidents being the number one cause of death. 

How National Parks Ranked for Fatalities From July 2013-June 2023

  1. Lake Mead National Recreation Area: 203 deaths 
  2. Yosemite National Park: 152 deaths
  3. Grand Canyon National Park: 136 deaths
  4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 104 deaths
  5. Blue Ridge Parkway: 100 deaths
  6. Natchez Trace Parkway: 89 deaths
  7. Baltimore-Washington Parkway: 83 deaths
  8. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: 75 deaths
  9. Golden Gate National Recreation Area: 70 deaths
  10. Yellowstone National Park: 53 deaths


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