Smokies attracts nearly 9.4M visitors in 2007

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) -- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park had a slight increase in visitors in 2007, despite hot and dry weather.

The country's most-visited national park received 9.37 million hikers, campers and outdoors enthusiasts last year. That's up 83,000 visitors or about 1 percent over the year before.

Of the park's three main entrances, Gatlinburg was up 3 percent, Cherokee, N.C., was up 1 percent and Townsend, Tenn., was flat.

Smokies Superintendent Dale Ditmanson noted Thursday that most of the increase came during a five-month period of May through September when the 520,000-acre preserve was experiencing some of its hottest and driest weather.

Attendance was down 3-to-4 percent in the fall because of poor leaf color.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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