Great Smoky Mountains National Park among the best in the US

The Great Smoky Mountains ranked among the top 25 national parks by Travel + Leisure.

NPS photo

There are dozens of national parks across the U.S., but one of the very best is in North Carolina, according to a recent report.

Travel + Leisure released its annual World’s Best Awards of the top travel experiences around the globe, including the best 25 national parks in the country based on natural attractions, activities, lodging, wildlife, accessibility and cleanliness.

At the very top of the list is America’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, along with Grand Teton, Yosemite, Glacier and Kenai Fjords. But not too far behind on the top-ranked is the Great Smoky Mountains at No. 8.

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The Great Smoky Mountains is America’s most visited national park, according to the National Park Service. NPS photo

The park, nestled between North Carolina and Tennessee, is the most visited in the country, according to the National Park Service, made up of 522,427 acres with several camp sites, hiking trails and more.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Ridge straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. NPS photo/Beck

North Carolina areas

Tennessee areas

  • Abrams Creek & Look Rock area

  • Metcalf Bottoms & Elkmont

  • Foothills Parkway East

  • Cades Cove

  • Cosby

  • Foothills Parkway West

  • Greenbrier

  • Sugarlands

  • Clingmans Dome & Newfound Gap (North Carolina/Tennessee border)

“From black bears to salamanders, old-growth forests to spring wildflowers, log cabins to gristmills … the park offers myriad opportunities for exploring and discovering both the natural and cultural history of these ancient mountains,” the National Park Service website says.

You can find the full list of the Top 25 national parks in the U.S. online at

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Chyna Blackmon

Chyna Blackmon is a service journalism reporter for The Charlotte Observer. A native of the Carolinas, she grew up in Columbia, SC, and graduated from Queens University of Charlotte. She’s also worked in local television news in Charlotte, NC, and Richmond, VA.
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