The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has recently released its visitation records for the month of April. For the first one third of the year, between January and April of 2013 the park saw 1,620,000 visitors. The number, while impressive, is actually down 360,000 visitors from the same time last year. That is 11.6% below the five year average of the January to April time period. Park officials attribute the drop in visitors to the extended closure of Newfound Gap Road on U.S route 441. The road was reopened to the public a month ahead of schedule on April 15, as previously reported by WRGC. The closing of Newfound Gap Road hurt Park attendance during the first third of the year. However, after the Newfound Gap Road reopening the park has enjoyed record high visitor attendance. In one day alone the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sugarlands Visitors center has seen 6,000 visitors, setting a new twenty year record. Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson is quoted as saying, “We are once again the most visited national park in the country, almost nine and a half million last year which is the highest number in over a decade”. With Newfound Gap Road reopened park officials are already seeing a return to those historic visitation numbers. Early signs are promising that the millions of park tourists and the dollars that they bring are returning to our area.