Visitors crowd the Smokies to see fall colors

Visitors crowd the Smokies to see fall colors

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Smokies visitors say they don't care how cold it gets this weekend; they just want to see the fall colors while they still can. Smokies visitors say they don't care how cold it gets this weekend; they just want to see the fall colors while they still can.
"It was such a beautiful day, we thought we'd come see the fall colors. Actually, we came here and we get to see the first snow," said Diana Bartels. "It was such a beautiful day, we thought we'd come see the fall colors. Actually, we came here and we get to see the first snow," said Diana Bartels.
"We just encourage people to be prepared for the traffic associated with everyone coming here to see the fall colors," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn. "We just encourage people to be prepared for the traffic associated with everyone coming here to see the fall colors," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn.
"I'm just excited. This is our first time in the park. We're on our way to go into the national park, so I'm glad it's open. We're all looking forward to it. We want to see some bears," Adriana Jones said. "I'm just excited. This is our first time in the park. We're on our way to go into the national park, so I'm glad it's open. We're all looking forward to it. We want to see some bears," Adriana Jones said.

by KAYLA STRAYER
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was filling up fast Friday night. Park officials say its one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Visitors say they don't care how cold it gets this weekend; they just want to see the fall colors while they still can.

Diana Bartels got her picture taken at one of her favorite spots in the Smokies. She made the short drive from her home in Sevierville to get a look at the fall colors. While she's used to the reds and oranges this time of year, she's surprised to see some white.

"It was such a beautiful day, we thought we'd come see the fall colors. Actually, we came here and we get to see the first snow," she said.

This crowd is just one of many packing the mountains this weekend. Park spokesperson Dana Soehn says despite the cold temperatures, the park is full.

"We just encourage people to be prepared for the traffic associated with everyone coming here to see the fall colors," said Soehn.

Along with traffic, Soehn says to be prepared for road closures. They had their first of the season Friday morning.

"The Clingman's Dome road was closed due to snow and ice. We had a dusting, but it was enough ice and about an inch of snow in those higher elevations this morning that we had some road problems," she said.

Soehn says the colder temperatures aren't keeping people away. In fact, this could be one of  the busiest weekends all year. However, for the whole month of October, Soehn expects numbers to be down from last October's one million visitors.

"We anticipate that our numbers are going to be lower for October because we were shutdown for those first 16 days of the month," Soehn said.

The shutdown almost kept a family from Indiana from coming to park. Adriana Jones says she didn't start planning the trip until she knew for sure the park would be open.

"I'm just excited. This is our first time in the park. We're on our way to go into the national park, so I'm glad it's open. We're all looking forward to it. We want to see some bears," Jones said.

Park officials say they will have the total number of visitors for October calculated by next month.

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