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National parks photos: Stunning images from the 10 most-visited parks

Of the 59 national parks around the United States, these gems attracted the most visitors last year.

From the mountains of Tennessee to the glaciers of Montana, we're exploring the natural wonders from afar and adding them to our ever-growing "must see" list.

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This is America's most-visited national park, attracting more
Photo Credit: Flickr/tombricker

This is America's most-visited national park, attracting more than 9 million visitors last year.

The Great Smoky Mountains are the oldest mountains in the world, and their southern location became a refuge for animals and plants during the last ice age. Today, biological diversity is the hallmark of this park.

There are more than 800 miles of hiking trails (including a section of the Appalachian Trail), plus the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road for bicycling.

The main park entrances are in Tennessee and North Carolina.

2. Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is a mile deep, 277
Photo Credit: Flickr/themensp

The Grand Canyon is a mile deep, 277 river miles long and 18 miles wide.

When you're not Instagramming, you can go for a mule ride along the canyon's rim, take a rafting trip on the Colorado River or climb to the top of the 70-foot-tall Watchtower.

3. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park covers about 1,200 square miles
Photo Credit: Flickr/stankus

Yosemite National Park covers about 1,200 square miles in central California. It's known for its waterfalls and rock climbing.

4. Yellowstone National Park

You'll find the majority of the world's geysers
Photo Credit: Flickr/daveynin

You'll find the majority of the world's geysers -- including Old Faithful -- in America's first national park. You may also spot grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk.

5. Olympic National Park

This Washington park encompasses the Pacific coastline, glacial
Photo Credit: Flickr/stacylynn

This Washington park encompasses the Pacific coastline, glacial mountains and temperate rainforests. Pick your favorite ecosystem (or see them all!).

6. Rocky Mountain National Park

Start in this Colorado park's rich wetlands (150
Photo Credit: Flickr/naturesvista

Start in this Colorado park's rich wetlands (150 lakes!) but keep climbing Trail Ridge Road and you'll reach an alpine tundra, where the land is too harsh for trees.

7. Zion National Park

One of the most popular hiking spots through
Photo Credit: Flickr/faungg

One of the most popular hiking spots through this Utah park is The Narrows, where the gorge's walls reach a thousand feet tall. There are also strenuous hikes through The Subway, a slot canyon between the North and South Guardian Angels.

8. Grand Teton National Park

Visit the beautiful Jackson Hole valley and Teton
Photo Credit: Flickr/jeffgunn

Visit the beautiful Jackson Hole valley and Teton Range during the warmer months, because winters in this part of Wyoming are unforgiving. The coldest temperature recorded in the park was -63 degrees Fahrenheit.

You might observe the historic (and endangered) migration of pronghorns, the fastest land mammals in the Western Hemisphere.

9. Acadia National Park

Acadia, on the coast of Maine, boasts beaches,
Photo Credit: Flickr/Nicholas Pfost

Acadia, on the coast of Maine, boasts beaches, forests, mountains, lakes, wetlands and interesting geologic formations (like Bubble Rock!).

10. Glacier National Park

The National Park Service calls Glacier, with its
Photo Credit: Flickr/Mark Stevens

The National Park Service calls Glacier, with its 740 miles of maintained trails, "a hiker's paradise."

And, of course, you'll want to see this Montana park's 25 functional glaciers, which are in danger of disappearing before 2030.

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