Tourism Development



Great Smoky Mountains: Adventure Creates Opportunity in Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of two designations in Appalachia, was the country’s most-visited National Park in 2020. The Smokies’ 12.1 million visitors more than tripled the #2 most-visited destination, Yellowstone National Park. Though surrounding communities like Sevierville benefit greatly from this natural asset, one of the park’s three counties, Cocke, is still considered economically distressed. In fact, the county lacks recreational trails despite its proximity to…
Investment in Action
New York, West Virginia

Allegany Preston

Trail Systems: Guiding Communities to Opportunities

Every Appalachian state has ample trail opportunities, from the Tanglefoot Trail in Mississippi, to South Carolina’s Swamp Rabbit Trail and the Great Allegheny Passage in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Trails are incredible gateways for attracting outside visitors and increasing quality of life for community members. ARC partners have long worked to establish trail systems that…
Investment in Action
West Virginia


New River Gorge: America’s Newest National Park

West Virginia’s New River Gorge is America’s newest national park, which has made headlines in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Conde Nast Traveler. Though excited by the national attention and economic potential, West Virginians have always known this area as an invaluable natural asset. Over the years, ARC…
Investment in Action


Pennsylvania Wilds: Connecting Nature, Culture, and Entrepreneurship

In Northern Pennsylvania, 50 state game lands, 29 state parks, 8 state forests, and one National Forest combine to form an ultimate outdoor destination – the Pennsylvania Wilds. Besides being a haven of outdoor recreation, what else do the 12 counties comprising the PA Wilds have in common? They’re considered coal-impacted, and have felt the effects of America’s changing energy production. Though beautiful, the rugged…
Investment in Action
Rural Action


Rural Action: Moving Forest Communities Forward in Ohio

Though Appalachia has two incredible national parks, the Region is also filled with 16 National Forests. ARC partners are finding ways to connect those assets, which are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, with surrounding communities to sustainably leverage the economic potential. One great example? Rural Action in Ohio, which is using ARC POWER support to strengthen their community through Asset-based Entrepreneurship: Trails,…
Investment in Action
West Virginia


The Natural Capital Investment Fund: A Path To Success

In 2016, the Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIFund) partnered with the Hatfield McCoy Trail Authority and Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College (Southern) to drive recreational tourism development in the coalfields of southern West Virginia. Through ARC POWER funding, the partners launched a revolving loan…
Investment in Action
Entire Region

Extending Our Welcome: Trends and Strategies for Tourism in Appalachia

Extending our Welcome uses qualitative and quantitative research to assess the history of tourism in Appalachia and make recommendations for communities looking to employ it as an economic strategy. The report also provides 12 community and establishment profiles from eight Appalachian states as a source of best practices. Though…

Red River Gorge: Gateway to Eastern Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky’s Red River Gorge spans four counties and is known locally for its natural beauty, biologic diversity, and fantastic rock climbing, hiking, and camping. An estimated 7,500 climbers visit the gorge annually, which generates a $3.6 million impact on the regional economy. However, the park is undercapitalized, and there…
Investment in Action

Sources of Regional Growth in Non-Metro Appalachia

The Sources of Growth project is part of a series of research efforts funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission to improve understanding of factors affecting economic growth in rural and distressed areas.