Approximately 237 million people visited American national parks in 2020, representing a 28% year-over-year decrease attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Many parks were forced to close to combat the spread of the virus, but that’s not the whole story—when the parks were open, many of them saw record crowds as throngs of people desperate to safely enjoy nature descended onto parks when they reopened.

President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 signed the act creating the National Park Service to leave natural and historic phenomenons “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Since then, our national parks have welcomed visitors from around the world to experience some of the best the country has to offer and showcase the country’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Today, the country’s 63 national parks contain at least 247 species of endangered or threatened plants and animals, more than 75,000 archaeological sites, and 18,000 miles of trails.

| Check out more lists and rankings from across Tennessee

Stacker compiled a list of the closest national parks to Nashville. National parks are ranked by closest straight line distance, measured from representative points in Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metro Area and each national park. Estimated driving times are from Here and are only available within the lower 48 states. All featured distances and driving times are estimated using representative locations from the center of each metro and national park—for some places within the metro area, the actual distance may be slightly shorter or longer to reach the closest entryway to a park.

Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#1. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

– Distance: 79 miles
– Driving time: 1.7 hours
– Date founded: July 1, 1941
– 2020 visitors: 290,392 (#41 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 54,011.91 acres

Aviator31 // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina, Tennessee)

– Distance: 177 miles
– Driving time: 3.6 hours
– Date founded: June 15, 1934
– 2020 visitors: 12,095,720 (#1 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 522,426.88 acres

Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

#3. Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)

– Distance: 261 miles
– Driving time: 4.8 hours
– Date founded: February 22, 2018[47]
– 2020 visitors: 486,021 (#31 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 192.83 acres

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#4. New River Gorge National Park (West Virginia)

– Distance: 335 miles
– Driving time: 6.7 hours
– Date founded: December 27, 2020
– 2020 visitors: 1,054,374 (#19 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 7,021 acres

Jtmartin57 // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

– Distance: 370 miles
– Driving time: 7.4 hours
– Date founded: November 10, 2003
– 2020 visitors: 119,306 (#51 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 26,476.47 acres

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#6. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

– Distance: 378 miles
– Driving time: 6.2 hours
– Date founded: March 4, 1921
– 2020 visitors: 1,348,215 (#16 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 5,554.15 acres

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#7. Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)

– Distance: 382 miles
– Driving time: 7.1 hours
– Date founded: February 15, 2019
– 2020 visitors: 2,293,106 (#11 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 15,349.08 acres

Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#8. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

– Distance: 448 miles
– Driving time: 8.2 hours
– Date founded: October 11, 2000
– 2020 visitors: 2,755,628 (#7 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 32,571.88 acres

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#9. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

– Distance: 486 miles
– Driving time: 8.9 hours
– Date founded: December 26, 1935
– 2020 visitors: 1,666,265 (#14 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 199,223.77 acres

Simon Dannhauer // Shutterstock

#10. Everglades National Park (Florida)

– Distance: 817 miles
– Driving time: 14.8 hours
– Date founded: May 30, 1934
– 2020 visitors: 702,319 (#25 highest among all national parks)
– Park area: 1,508,938.57 acres

To see the full list from Stacker, click here.