The 10 most visited national parks in the United States


National Park Week kicked off this weekend, with every park in the system offering free admission on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19. Special events at parks continue throughout the week.

With 59 national parks in total (including the newest addition, Pinnacles National Park), it can be tough to figure out which one you should visit next.

Here are some tips for choosing a national park:

Keep the crowds in mind: Nearly 300 million people visited national parks last year, with Great Smoky Mountains National Park receiving 10 million of them. Some of the parks get very crowded at peak season (summer). If you want to know which draw the most visitors, click through the slideshow above to see the ten most popular national parks.

Think about distance: Do you want something you can drive to, or are you willing to fly to visit a park? If you're on the East Coast and have the time and money, a western national park is a good bet. If you'd rather stay close, there are some top parks that are driving distance from many eastern or southern cities.

Look at nearby parks: Many national parks are within easy driving distance of another park. For example, visitors to Yellowstone can easily check out Grand Teton, and Utah has a road trip connecting all five of the state's national parks -- Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Zion.

Consider what type of experience you want: Some parks are remote and offer an escape from civilization; others are a quick drive from major metropolitan areas. And while all of the parks offer fantastic landscapes and nature, some are known for their wildlife, while others are known for adventure sports.

Ask the experts: The National Park Service launched the Find Your Park program, which has quizzes, maps and articles to help you pick the best park to visit.

Related video: National Park Service wants to redefine the word "park"

National Park Service Wants to Redefine the Word 'Park' for a New Generation
National Park Service Wants to Redefine the Word 'Park' for a New Generation


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