View of mountains from Clingmans Dome at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Photo: U.S. National Park Service
Photo: U.S. National Park Service

The country’s most popular national park is only 3 hours away

Millions of visitors flock to U.S. national parks each year to witness the country’s most beautiful natural wonders.

» RELATED: 5 places to go glamping in the Smoky Mountains

And the Great Smoky Mountains between North Carolina and Tennessee (about three hours from metro Atlanta), is officially the most popular, averaging 10 million annual visitors since 1996, according to poll analytics site FiveThirtyEight.

National Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson said the park’s popularity is likely due to its accessibility from big cities such as Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky.

Olson also told FiveThirtyEight that it’s one of the few national parks that charges no fee.

» RELATED: 10 nearby weekend getaways ideal for Atlanta families

National parks in general, according to analysts, have never been more popular.

In fact, approximately 300 million visitors traveled to national parks in 2015 — a 14 million increase from 2014.

If you’re planning on heading to the Smoky Mountains this summer, consider glamping at the Falling Water Adventure Resport, Camp LeConte or these other hotspots

The Great Smoky Mountains is also a top destination this summer for August’s total eclipse, the country’s first in 38 years.

» RELATED: How Georgians can watch the rare total solar eclipse this summer

The 10 most popular U.S. national parks:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains (North Carolina, Tennessee)
  2. Grand Canyon (Arizona)
  3. Yosemite (California)
  4. Olympic (Washington)
  5. Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)
  6. Rocky Mountain (Colorado)
  7. Cuyahoga Valley (Ohio)
  8. Zion (Utah)
  9. Grand Teton (Wyoming)
  10. Acadia (Maine)

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