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Great Smokies visits down in first 5 months

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) - Visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are off 9% from January through May, when compared with the first five months of 2011.

Figures from the National Park Service on Thursday show a drop of more than 240,000 visitors for the period.

Park spokesman Bob Miller stated in a news release that May figures showed a drop of 8.3% for the month, compared with May 2010. Traffic was down at all park entrances.

There were no significant road closures within the park in May, but Miller noted that gasoline prices climbed significantly during the month.

More than 9,400,000 people visited the Smokies in 2010. The park's highest visitation was in 1999, when nearly 10,300,000 visits were recorded.

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