AskPatty's Guide to 12 Great National Parks: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
The number one most visited national park in America, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park draws more than ten million visitors each year. Its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture are what make it such a popular destination for visitors from around the world. Most visitors see the park from a mountain-skimming scenic highway; many take to the more than 800 miles of hiking trails.
Encompassing more than 800 square miles dominated by plant-covered, gently contoured mountains that formed perhaps 200 to 300 million years ago across North Carolina and Tennessee, no other area of equal size in a temperate climate can match the park's amazing diversity of plants and animals. More than 19,000 species have been documented in the park and scientists believe an additional 80,000-100,000 species may live here. Black bears are also among the most common wildlife to be observed here -- but be sure to keep a safe distance!
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