Mountain visits up 20 percent in first 3 months

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) -- Officials of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park say mild weather probably had a lot to do with March being a record month for visits.

Park spokesman Bob Miller noted that 611,326 people came to the Smokies last month. The figure broke the previous March record of 564,878 visits set in 2007.

March 2012 visits to the 500,000-acre park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border jumped 21.7 percent over March 2011. That brought the year-to-date figure to 19.5 percent more visits than at this point last year.

Through March, just over 200,000 more people have come to the Smokies than in the first three months of 2011.