Smokies visits expected to rebound with road fixed

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — The National Park Service expects visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to rebound, now that U.S. 441 has been restored on the North Carolina side.

April visits were down 14.6 percent, compared with April 2012. Park officials said that was off nearly 109,000 people from the year before and 11.9 percent below the five-year average for April.

On April 15, the highway — also known as Newfound Gap Road — was opened after almost 90 days of closure due to a landslide.

With the road again open between Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Cherokee, N.C., park officials anticipate a return to historic visitation numbers during the remainder of the year.