Visits to Great Smoky Mountains National Park up 8 percent for first half of year over 2014



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GATLINBURG, Tennessee — Great Smoky Mountains National Park says more than 4.3 million people visited between January and June, an 8 percent increase from the first half of 2014.

The park is the most visited of the national parks. More than 1 million people visited in May, the most for May since the National Park Service began tracking monthly visitation in 1979.

Visitation increased 26 percent at the Oconaluftee entrance near Cherokee, North Carolina.

More than 100,000 people camped in one of the park's nine campgrounds, an increase of 14 percent from last year, and more than 55,000 camped in the park's backcountry, a 12 percent increase from 2014.

The park had its busiest year in 14 years last year, when 10 million visited, including the most October visitors in 27 years.

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