Rain, road collapse drive down Smokies visits

Rain, road collapse drive down Smokies visits

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A landslide closed Newfound Gap Road earlier this year. A landslide closed Newfound Gap Road earlier this year.

GATLINBURG (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 five to seven 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.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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