Rain, road collapse drive down Smokies visits

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm •  Published: February 19, 2013

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — Officials of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park think above-normal precipitation and subsequent road closings drove down visits in January.

A section of a major road slid down a mountain.

The number of tourists was off 3.5 percent from the five-year average for January. Fewer than 266,000 people came into the park during the month — the second-lowest visitation in five years.

The park generally gets 5 to 7 inches of rain in January but received 14 to 17 inches last month.

A 200-foot section of U.S. 441 between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, N.C., collapsed the morning of Jan. 16. Officials said it will take into the summer to repair the road.