America's most popular national parks
It's Day 2 of summer. If you don't have vacation plans yet, you're behind. Fortunately, there's an easy solution. Visit one of America's 58 national parks. They encompass some of the country's best natural sights, including Alaska's pristine wilderness, Yellowstone's hot springs, Utah's rock formations and Hawaii's volcanoes. As a starting point for your vacation planning, here's a look at the 10 most-visited in 2011.
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( Randy Brown / Associated Press )
Tennessee, North Carolina
Visitors in 2009 (through August): 6.4 million
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which sits between North Carolina and Tennessee, is a wonderland of waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife. It offers visitors 800 miles of maintained trails where they may see bears, turkeys, woodchucks, raccoons and even elk, which were reintroduced to the park in 2001. It is home to more than 1,660 kinds of flowering plants, more than any other national park in America, earning it the moniker "the wildflower park."
Three classic mountain towns in North Carolina
Fall's finest hikes are within easy reach at US National Parks