Despite November plunge, Smokies visits steady

By RANDALL DICKERSON
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, TN (AP) -- As 2010 comes to a close, visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are pacing 2009 traffic.

Through November, visits to the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border were 1.7 percent ahead of year-before visits to date despite a steep November drop at the Gatlinburg park entrance and a year plagued by road construction. In 2009, there were 9,491,436 visitors to the park.

In November, overall Smokies visits fell 12.4 percent, the National Park Service said. The decline was most dramatic at the Gatlinburg entrance, where traffic was off 25.3 percent.

Park spokesman Bob Miller says a likely cause of the falloff was an autumn leaf show that was on time this year, followed by a rainy and dreary November.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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