Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to monitor visitor use patterns in several of the most popular locations in the park in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Volunteers may choose to participate in a variety of opportunities that best align with their interests and preferred locations. Opportunities include recording observations on popular hiking trails, monitoring parking availability, and monitoring traffic flow patterns at busy locations.
Monitoring data will be used to provide park managers with timely and accurate information about current visitor use patterns and resource conditions at a variety of sites including Clingmans Dome, Deep Creek, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Laurel Falls Trail, Alum Cave Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, and Trillium Gap Trail. Park visitation has increased by more than 30 percent over the last decade, resulting in crowding and congestion at some of the most popular destinations. Additionally, issues like roadside parking have become increasingly commonplace, leading to damage along the road shoulders and potentially unsafe conditions as visitors walk along busy roads from their cars to the intended destinations. This monitoring data will help managers develop recommendations for safety and access improvement proposals.
Each volunteer is asked to work at least one, four-hour shift per week during peak visitation season from April through the November. Training will be offered virtually in March. Interested volunteers should email Kendra Straub, Management and Program Analyst, at Kendra_straub@nps.gov. For more information about visitation in the Smokies, please visit www.nps.gov/grsm/VES.
– National Park Service release