Smokies set new record for visitation in 2017

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Representatives from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park said 2017 was another record year for visitation with more than 11 million people visiting the park.

New numbers released by the national park showed the Smokies as the most visited national park, with more people coming in 2017 than in any year before.

In 2017, 11.34 million people came into the park, slightly more than 2016's record year of 11.31 million.

"So it is a slight increase and we think that has to do with five of the months in 2017 being all time high record months," said Dana Soehn, park spokesperson. "And that means we're continuing to see pressure on our trails and campgrounds and so we're always out trying to maintain those areas."

Campgrounds alone had 400,000 people spend the night. Rangers said they've worked hard to minimize the impact on your visit to the park.

"Whenever you have aging facilities, you have those issues that come up that sometimes you have to shut down areas to do those full scale renovations," she said.

She said more projects like the Trails Forever programs work on Rainbow Falls will be needed.

"You know every year we're challenged to continue that incredible service the people expect when they come to the Smokies. Each year we've been able to meet that need, but it's not without challenge," Soehn said.

Next month, Pigeon Forge will release final 2017 numbers when the mayor delivers his State of the City address. Early indications are Pigeon Forge has recovered from the 2016 firestorm events as well.

January of 2017 was one of the five months where visitation set a new record.