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11 Best National Parks in the Southeast

June 26, 2023
11 Best National Parks

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina

  • Phone: (865) 436-1200
  • State: Tennessee/North Carolina
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/grsm

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. This iconic national park is known for its stunning mountain vistas, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife in the gorgeous Nantahala National Forest. Visitors can hike the numerous trails, drive the scenic byways, and even enjoy whitewater rafting in the nearby Nantahala River. While exploring the park, a visit to the nearby Nantahala Outdoor Center is a must for thrilling outdoor adventures such as white water rafting, kayaking, and ziplining.

2. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

  • Phone: (803) 776-4396
  • State: South Carolina
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/cong

Congaree National Park, located in South Carolina, is a true wilderness gem. It features one of the largest intact expanses of old-growth bottomland hardwood forests in the United States. Visitors can explore the park through various trails, boardwalks, and canoe excursions, allowing them to immerse themselves in the beauty of this wildlife sanctuary.

3. Everglades National Park, Florida

  • Phone: (305) 242-7700
  • State: Florida
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/ever

Everglades National Park, situated in southern Florida, is a unique and fragile ecosystem. It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and is home to a vast array of plant and animal species. Visitors can embark on guided boat tours, hiking trails, and even take part in ranger-led programs to learn about the significance of this national park and its preservation.

4. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

  • Phone: (305) 242-7700
  • State: Florida
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/drto

Located approximately 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote paradise in the Gulf of Mexico. This park is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and historical Fort Jefferson. Visitors can explore the underwater world through snorkeling or scuba diving, enjoy birdwatching, and even camp on the uninhabited islands.

5. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

  • Phone: (270) 758-2180
  • State: Kentucky
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/maca

Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is home to the longest known cave system in the world. Exploring the vast underground chambers and passages is an unforgettable experience. Above ground, visitors can hike through the park’s scenic trails, enjoy camping, and immerse themselves in the rich cultural and natural history of the region.

6. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Georgia

  • Phone: (678) 538-1200
  • State: Georgia
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/chat

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, situated near Atlanta, Georgia, offers a refreshing escape from the city. With over 48 miles of river to explore, visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities such as kayaking, fishing, hiking, and picnicking. This park is a haven for wildlife and is perfect for a shoot the hooch day trip or a weekend getaway.

7. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

  • Phone: (540) 999-3500
  • State: Virginia
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/shen

Shenandoah National Park, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, is a scenic wonderland. With its panoramic vistas, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, this park is a hiker’s paradise. Visitors can also explore the famous Skyline Drive, a scenic roadway that winds through the heart of the park.

8. Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, Georgia

  • Phone: (478) 752-8257
  • State: Georgia
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/ocmu

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, located in Macon, Georgia, is a testament to the region’s Native American heritage. The park preserves and interprets the archaeological remains of prehistoric mounds and ceremonial earthworks. Visitors can take guided tours, explore the museum, and learn about the rich cultural history of the area.

9. Biscayne National Park, Florida

  • Phone: (305) 230-7275
  • State: Florida
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/bisc

Biscayne National Park, just a stone’s throw away from downtown Miami, protects a unique marine ecosystem. Visitors can snorkel or scuba dive in the clear waters, discovering vibrant coral reefs, shipwrecks, and a variety of marine life. Boat tours, kayaking, and fishing are also popular activities in this coastal wilderness area.

10. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

  • Phone: (501) 620-6715
  • State: Arkansas
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/hosp

Hot Springs National Park, located in Arkansas, is renowned for its natural hot springs. Visitors can relax in the thermal baths, hike the scenic trails, and learn about the park’s rich history. The park also offers spa services, making it a unique and rejuvenating destination.

11. New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia

  • Phone: (304) 465-0508
  • State: West Virginia
  • URL: https://www.nps.gov/neri

New River Gorge National Park, recently designated as a national park, is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The park offers exhilarating whitewater rafting opportunities, breathtaking vistas, and miles of hiking and biking trails. It is also home to the iconic New River Gorge Bridge, a must-see landmark.

These 11 national parks in the Southeast offer a wealth of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and recreational opportunities.

Whether you seek tranquility in the wilderness, an adrenaline rush, or a deeper understanding of the region’s history, these national parks provide experiences that will leave lasting memories.

So, grab your hiking boots, pack your sense of adventure, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the stunning national parks of the Southeast.


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