New tourism numbers are out for the Blue Ridge Parkway with nearly 15 million visitors last year adding to the local economy. That's more than the number of visitors to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite national parks combined.
The North Carolina section of the Parkway held steady at more than 10 million, and in Virginia, figures climbed by nearly 4.5 percent. Those numbers add up to big bucks too. Last year's total economic impact on the two states was $1.1 billion.
Blue Ridge Parkway public affairs spokesperson Caitlin Worth says the parkway was designed to entice people to stop in the local communities along the way.
"They're going to need to stop somewhere and get lunch," says Worth. "They're going to need to potentially stay in a hotel in Galax one night, and then Boone, and Blowing Rock the next. And so, we find that one of the highest rates of spending for those visits is often hotels. But they're also spending money on gas and food and restaurants, retail and things like that."
Worth adds that accommodating those needs translates into roughly 16,000 jobs in the communities adjoining the parkway. Peak seasons are June and July when school's out, and October for viewing the fall colors.