Great Smoky Mountains National Park Record Visits Present Challenge: How To Help

With the current pandemic, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeing a surge in visits! Many are seeking a safe way to vacation to avoid exposure to the pandemic. A large number of visitors create a challenge that requires adjusting.

The issue requires funding and that is exactly where the Friends of the Smokies comes into the picture. If you're interested in helping, you can donate via their virtual telethon.

With breath-taking scenic views and plenty of naturalized wildlife, there's plenty of opportunity to vacation near home. According to Hunter Williams, that is what makes it an ideal destination to visit from Jackson, Tennessee with family.

When it comes to National Parks, it's difficult at best to beat a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

According to Allen Murray, it's an ideal place to visit and it's free of charge which makes it a must-see destination during the pandemic.

Even if there isn't a pandemic the park is an ideal visitor destination. With a brief shutdown during the spring, the park enjoyed a resurge of visits after the park reopening.

Florie Takaki, a Park Ranger, stated that when the park reopened, visitors began to show up by droves. Seeking a destination that was safe to visit during a pandemic, the park fit that bill to a "T".

An easy day's drive for approximately two-thirds of the United States Population, it's perfect. A visit to the park helps to restore the soul to a pre-pandemic life.

With record visits, the park has enjoyed a surge of approximately 32 percent in visits over the previous year alone.

According to rangers, they're predicting more visitors each and every week and since last year topped 12.5 million, this rise is leading to many challenges.

While attempting to remain respectful of regulations and proper social distancing protocol, it's vital to wear a mask and plan on remaining at a safe distance from others. People should also plan on trying secondary entrances such as Big Creek, Cataloochee, and even Balsam Mountain in lieu of Gatlinburg or the famous Cherokee entrances.

Another concern is that popularity is leading to congestion in areas such as parking, restrooms, the more popular places to visit, and even erosion caused by foot traffic and those who swipe plants or rocks (which is illegal).

It's vital to be vigilant and report such things as graffiti, people littering, and those who are removing rocks and plants.

Rangers are relying on the public and those who are visiting to remain vigilant and they rea always seeking volunteers to help record how many people visit the park.

It's vital to ensure that we are working on every detail according to Takaki to ensure that everyone can enjoy the park. Whether visiting in person, or for entertainment, a short visit to escape the rat race, or a family trip, the park can also be seen online by going to their website

The Friends of the Smokies are helping to make this possible by offering their help to the park.

The mission: To raise enough money to help support the various projects that the park couldn't offer if it wasn't for generous donors of the Friends that give annually per Non-profit Tim Chandler. "We're here for perpetuity" that's the mission. It's intrinsic to the mission.

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