Hwy. 441 Back Open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There is good news today for those planning trips into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The National Park Service says that U.S. Highway 441, also known as Newfound Gap Road, is back open from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina with no restrictions after repairs were made following a landslide along the road earlier this year.

The landslide occurred in January near Mile Marker 22 on Highway 441 through the park. That is between Collins Creek and Webb Overlook.

According to park officials, the landslide was about the length of a football field and 45 to 50 feet deep.

The road is re-opening 30 days earlier than projected under the nearly $4 million repair contract.

The announcement that the road is re-opening comes on the same day that the Park Service announced that total visitation for March in the Smoky Mountains National Park was down almost 24 percent when compared to visitation in March 2012. In addition, Park officials said that visitation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first three months of the year was the lowest it has been in over five years.

Officials said that drop in visitation is likely due to the closure of the road due to the landslide.