High Spike In Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitation Attributed To Good Weather

Great weather, when compared to January 2011, is thought to be behind a nearly 24 percent increase in visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park this past January.

In January 2011, the Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Cherokee, North Carolina, was closed by snow and ice on all or parts of 17 days, but this year that popular artery was only closed six times, park officials note.

Visitation this past January numbered 265,787 compared to 214,609 during January 2011, they said in a release.

All of the Smokies' main entry points showed increases in 2012:

* Gatlinburg: +23.4 percent

* Townsend: +7.0 percent

* Cherokee: + 44.7 percent.

The park's 13 outlying entrances showed a 14.9 percent increase, park officials said.