National Park visits up despite shutdown

Despite a government shutdown that lasted most of the month, visitation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was markedly higher this January than in the same month last year. 

Wayfaring strangers lack wayfinding signage

In the ever more competitive battle to lure motoring tourists to Haywood County — and to keep them in the county once they’re here — a plan by the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority to install custom wayfinding signage remains at a dead stop, with no signs they’ll be up any time soon. 

‘Maggie on Ice’ falls flat

What was hoped to be a slick new attraction designed to bring more visitors to Maggie Valley during wintertime has instead been shown to be an attraction of a different sort — a magic trick that turned $36,268 of taxpayer money into just $4,338 of ticket sales.

Smokies records highest-ever visitation in 2018

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park set a new visitation record for 2018, welcoming 11.4 million visitors to its 816 square miles last year.

Elk fest coming to Maggie: Event will celebrate elk, wildlife and the outdoors

A new extravaganza will prance into the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds this year — the Smoky Mountain Elk Fest, an event years in the making designed to offer education and celebration of all things elk and of the outdoors in general. 

“It’s actually been talked about for at least four years, and there have been several meetings where all the state agencies and regional agencies have come together and talked about it,” said Lynn Collins, executive director of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority. “It was just a situation where there wasn’t anybody that would step up and spearhead it.”

Ice rink in Maggie Valley opens next week

It’s a perplexing dichotomy. Maggie Valley has been portrayed as a town that rolls up the sidewalks once the leaf-lookers leave each fall, even though it’s home to two popular winter attractions — Cataloochee Ski Resort and Tony’s Tube World draw thousands each year to the western end of Haywood County — but now a third reason to visit the Valley will further test tourists’ appetite for winter wanderings.

Community steps up to care for parks during shutdown

The National Park Service is closed. 

Sort of. 

When the clock struck midnight on Dec. 22, 2018, the latest continuing budget resolution expired and the federal government’s failure to agree on a spending bill resulted in the suspension of all “non-essential” government services — including most services associated with operating the national parks. Of 24,681 National Park Service employees nationwide, only 3,298 are working during the shutdown, with just 326 for the entire Southeast region. 

Cruising the Smokies under shutdown

It’s just after 11 a.m. on a weekday, and while a road sign at the Cherokee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alerts travelers “All facilities closed for govt shutdown,” visitors are still arriving. 

Partial government shutdown continues; National parks still accessible to visitors

Congress’s failure to approve a discretionary spending budget led to another partial government shutdown beginning Dec. 21, and Western North Carolina’s economy will once again feel the impact the longer it continues.

Ghosted: Clock runs out on latest Ghost Town redevelopment plan

The strange saga of Maggie Valley’s Ghost Town amusement park has more twists and turns and more highs and lows than a roller coaster, but now that the latest ride up Buck Mountain is over, two investors say CEO Lamar Berry has thrown them for a loop. 

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