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The Three Closest National Parks to Atlanta

National Park Week is April 17 – 25 this year. It is a time to explore these beautiful natural landscapes, learn about their history, and become more environmentally conscious about the effects we have on them. But what better way to join the celebrations and fully immerse yourself in the grandiosity of nature than to visit one of the 63 national parks found in the United States.

The National Park Service is hosting special events across all national parks with each day having a specific theme. They are also hosting digital experiences.

When you think of national parks, you might think of the big names like Zion, Yosemite or Grand Canyons. While these are all out west, there are a handful in the Southeast. You don’t have to drive too far to visit these national parks, the three closest to Atlanta.


Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Located just 160 miles north of Atlanta, the Great Smokey Mountains National Park is the closest to the city and also the most visited with 12 million visits each year!

The Great Smokey Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. There are 150 official trails; you can find the highest peak at Clingman’s Dome.

Did you know that the Smokey Mountains are the salamander capital of the world?!


Congaree National Park  

This park can be found in South Carolina, just 229 miles from Atlanta. It covers over 22,000 acres and was just recently added to the list of National Parks in 2003.

It has the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. Congaree’s floodplain forest includes one of the highest canopies in the world. For thousands of years, Native Americans called Congaree home. Enslaved African Americans would use the floodplains as a place of refuge in search of liberty.


Mammoth Cave National Park

The world’s largest known cave system is located in Kentucky, just 340 miles north of Atlanta.

Known for its cave system, rolling hills and deep river valleys, this park was named to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve.

You can enjoy guided cave tours as well as kayaking, horseback riding, camping and hiking. Geologists estimate that the parts of the cave are over 10 million years old, and if you like a good scary story, this is the place for you. The onsite cemetery holds not only the remains of the first guides to map Mammoth Cave, but also those of several tuberculosis patients that passed there. For a short time, TB patients were housed in the caves in hopes that the environment would help to heal their lungs in the early 19th-century.

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The Three Closest National Parks to Atlanta