Fewer visitors toured the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2012.           

Visits dropped one percent from the previous year to the parkway's second-lowest level in nearly three decades.           

That one percent decline translates to about 177,000 less travelers along the 469-mile scenic route.           

The parkway that stretches through Virginia and North Carolina was seeing fewer visits for several years until 2011, when visits picked up. That year the highway had 15.3 million recreational visits.           

Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis said he blames much of the 2012 decline on Superstorm Sandy. The storm hit at the parkway's busiest month, October.

High gas prices may have also played a role.