Visitation picking up in Smokies

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) - Visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are running ahead of last year's traffic.

The National Park Service said February saw an 11.6% increase in visitors over the same month last year.

Visits in February totaled 351,617 - a jump of 36,411 over February 2011.

That made for the busiest February in the Smokies since the same month in 2001.

A news release from park officials stated visits were up 16.5% for the first two months of this year, compared with January and February of 2011.

Park campgrounds had a 24.3% increase in camping nights last month.

Just over 9 million people visited the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border in 2011.

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