Closest national parks to Charlotte

Written by:
July 13, 2022
Zack Frank // Shutterstock

Closest national parks to Charlotte

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.

Stacker compiled a list of the closest national parks to Charlotte. National parks are ranked by closest straight line distance, measured from representative points in Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 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.

Be sure to check with individual parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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Jtmartin57 // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

- Distance: 96 miles
- Driving time: 2.4 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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Aviator31 // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 158 miles
- Driving time: 4.2 hours
- Date founded: June 15, 1934
- 2020 visitors: 12,095,720 (#1 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 522,426.88 acres
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Steve Heap // Shutterstock

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

- Distance: 201 miles
- Driving time: 3.7 hours
- Date founded: December 27, 2020
- 2020 visitors: 1,054,374 (#19 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 7,021 acres
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Jon Bilous // Shutterstock

#4. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

- Distance: 269 miles
- Driving time: 5.5 hours
- Date founded: December 26, 1935
- 2020 visitors: 1,666,265 (#14 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 199,223.77 acres
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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#5. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

- Distance: 327 miles
- Driving time: 8.4 hours
- Date founded: July 1, 1941
- 2020 visitors: 290,392 (#41 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 54,011.91 acres

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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

- Distance: 421 miles
- Driving time: 7.6 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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Delmas Lehman // Shutterstock

#7. Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)

- Distance: 561 miles
- Driving time: 11.8 hours
- Date founded: February 15, 2019
- 2020 visitors: 2,293,106 (#11 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 15,349.08 acres
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Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

#8. Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)

- Distance: 572 miles
- Driving time: 11.6 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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NPS // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Biscayne National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 657 miles
- Driving time: 11.4 hours
- Date founded: June 28, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 402,770 (#36 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 172,971.11 acres
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#10. Everglades National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 678 miles
- Driving time: 12.3 hours
- Date founded: May 30, 1934
- 2020 visitors: 702,319 (#25 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,508,938.57 acres

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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#11. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

- Distance: 697 miles
- Driving time: 12.6 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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U.S. National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 736 miles
- Driving time: 14.4 hours
- Date founded: October 26, 1992
- 2020 visitors: 48,543 (#55 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 64,701.22 acres
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Romiana Lee // Shutterstock

#13. Acadia National Park (Maine)

- Distance: 920 miles
- Driving time: 18.6 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 2,669,034 (#8 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 49,076.63 acres
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MDuchek // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

- Distance: 977 miles
- Driving time: 19.9 hours
- Date founded: April 3, 1940
- 2020 visitors: 6,493 (#59 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 571,790.30 acres
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BlueBarronPhoto // Shutterstock

#15. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

- Distance: 1,109 miles
- Driving time: 22.0 hours
- Date founded: April 8, 1975
- 2020 visitors: 263,091 (#44 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 218,222.35 acres

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#16. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 1,297 miles
- Driving time: 24.8 hours
- Date founded: November 10, 1978
- 2020 visitors: 916,932 (#21 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 242,755.94 acres
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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#17. Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 1,340 miles
- Driving time: 26.1 hours
- Date founded: January 9, 1903
- 2020 visitors: 448,405 (#33 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 33,970.84 acres
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#18. Big Bend National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 1,374 miles
- Driving time: 26.0 hours
- Date founded: June 12, 1944
- 2020 visitors: 393,907 (#37 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 801,163.21 acres
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#19. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 1,375 miles
- Driving time: 23.1 hours
- Date founded: May 14, 1930
- 2020 visitors: 183,835 (#45 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 46,766.45 acres
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#20. Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 1,384 miles
- Driving time: 25.5 hours
- Date founded: September 24, 2004
- 2020 visitors: 461,532 (#32 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 107,341.87 acres

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#21. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 1,399 miles
- Driving time: 25.0 hours
- Date founded: January 26, 1915
- 2020 visitors: 3,305,199 (#4 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 265,807.25 acres
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#22. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 1,404 miles
- Driving time: 24.2 hours
- Date founded: October 15, 1966
- 2020 visitors: 151,256 (#49 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 86,367.10 acres
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#23. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

- Distance: 1,428 miles
- Driving time: 26.8 hours
- Date founded: November 10, 1978
- 2020 visitors: 551,303 (#28 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 70,446.89 acres
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Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#24. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 1,462 miles
- Driving time: 25.3 hours
- Date founded: December 20, 2019[111]
- 2020 visitors: 415,383 (#34 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 146,344.31 acres
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SL-Photography // Shutterstock

#25. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 1,504 miles
- Driving time: 28.8 hours
- Date founded: October 21, 1999
- 2020 visitors: 341,620 (#39 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 30,779.83 acres

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#26. Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. Virgin Islands)

- Distance: 1,522 miles
- Date founded: August 2, 1956
- 2020 visitors: 167,540 (#46 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 15,052.53 acres
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#27. Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 1,549 miles
- Driving time: 28.6 hours
- Date founded: June 29, 1906
- 2020 visitors: 287,477 (#42 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 52,485.17 acres
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#28. Arches National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,605 miles
- Driving time: 29.4 hours
- Date founded: November 12, 1971
- 2020 visitors: 1,238,083 (#17 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 76,678.98 acres
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#29. Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,625 miles
- Driving time: 35.2 hours
- Date founded: September 12, 1964
- 2020 visitors: 493,914 (#30 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 337,597.83 acres
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#30. Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,636 miles
- Driving time: 27.2 hours
- Date founded: December 9, 1962
- 2020 visitors: 384,483 (#38 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 221,390.21 acres

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Layne V. Naylor // Shutterstock

#31. Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,692 miles
- Driving time: 30.9 hours
- Date founded: December 18, 1971
- 2020 visitors: 981,038 (#20 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 241,904.50 acres
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#32. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

- Distance: 1,696 miles
- Driving time: 32.0 hours
- Date founded: March 1, 1872
- 2020 visitors: 3,806,306 (#2 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 2,219,790.71 acres
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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#33. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

- Distance: 1,699 miles
- Driving time: 31.0 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1929
- 2020 visitors: 3,289,638 (#5 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 310,044.36 acres
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#34. Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,716 miles
- Driving time: 29.1 hours
- Date founded: October 14, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 762,226 (#24 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 92,867.42 acres
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#35. Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,750 miles
- Driving time: 32.9 hours
- Date founded: February 25, 1928
- 2020 visitors: 1,464,655 (#15 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 35,835.08 acres

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#36. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,758 miles
- Driving time: 30.4 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 2,897,098 (#6 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,201,647.03 acres
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Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#37. Zion National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,799 miles
- Driving time: 33.5 hours
- Date founded: November 19, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 3,591,254 (#3 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 147,242.66 acres
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#38. Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

- Distance: 1,859 miles
- Driving time: 33.5 hours
- Date founded: October 27, 1986
- 2020 visitors: 120,248 (#50 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 77,180.00 acres
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#39. Glacier National Park (Montana)

- Distance: 1,930 miles
- Date founded: May 11, 1910
- 2020 visitors: 1,698,864 (#13 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,013,125.99 acres
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#40. Joshua Tree National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,996 miles
- Driving time: 34.1 hours
- Date founded: October 31, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 2,399,542 (#10 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 795,155.85 acres

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#41. Death Valley National Park (California, Nevada)

- Distance: 2,015 miles
- Driving time: 34.5 hours
- Date founded: October 31, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 820,023 (#22 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,408,406.73 acres
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#42. Kings Canyon National Park (California)

- Distance: 2,105 miles
- Driving time: 41.1 hours
- Date founded: March 4, 1940
- 2020 visitors: 415,077 (#35 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 461,901.20 acres
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#43. Sequoia National Park (California)

- Distance: 2,116 miles
- Driving time: 40.1 hours
- Date founded: September 25, 1890
- 2020 visitors: 796,086 (#23 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 404,062.63 acres
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#44. Yosemite National Park (California)

- Distance: 2,147 miles
- Driving time: 40.2 hours
- Date founded: October 1, 1890
- 2020 visitors: 2,268,313 (#12 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 761,747.50 acres
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#45. Channel Islands National Park (California)

- Distance: 2,189 miles
- Date founded: March 5, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 167,290 (#47 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 249,561.00 acres

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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#46. Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)

- Distance: 2,237 miles
- Driving time: 40.7 hours
- Date founded: August 9, 1916
- 2020 visitors: 542,274 (#29 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 106,589.02 acres
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National Park Service/Deby Dixon // Wikimedia Commons

#47. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 2,249 miles
- Driving time: 43.8 hours
- Date founded: October 2, 1968
- 2020 visitors: 30,885 (#56 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 504,780.94 acres
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Yhelfman // Shutterstock

#48. Pinnacles National Park (California)

- Distance: 2,251 miles
- Driving time: 38.7 hours
- Date founded: January 10, 2013
- 2020 visitors: 165,740 (#48 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 26,685.73 acres
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#49. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 2,257 miles
- Driving time: 42.1 hours
- Date founded: March 2, 1899
- 2020 visitors: 1,160,754 (#18 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 236,381.64 acres
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Hank Shiffman // Shutterstock

#50. Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

- Distance: 2,261 miles
- Driving time: 42.2 hours
- Date founded: May 22, 1902
- 2020 visitors: 670,500 (#26 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 183,224.05 acres

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f11photo // Shutterstock

#51. Olympic National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 2,347 miles
- Driving time: 44.6 hours
- Date founded: June 29, 1938
- 2020 visitors: 2,499,177 (#9 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 922,649.41 acres
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Bob Pool // Shutterstock

#52. Redwood National Park (California)

- Distance: 2,363 miles
- Driving time: 45.2 hours
- Date founded: October 2, 1968
- 2020 visitors: 265,177 (#43 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 138,999.37 acres
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Alan Wu // Wikimedia Commons

#53. Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,992 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 5,748 (#60 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,223,383.43 acres
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Sewtex // Wikimedia Commons

#54. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,185 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 16,655 (#57 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 8,323,146.48 acres
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National Park Service, Alaska Region // Wikimedia Commons

#55. Kenai Fjords National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,444 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 115,882 (#52 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 669,650.05 acres
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Denali National Park and Preserve // Wikimedia Commons

#56. Denali National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,466 miles
- Date founded: February 26, 1917
- 2020 visitors: 54,850 (#53 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 4,740,911.16 acres
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National Park Service, Alaska Region // Wikimedia Commons

#57. Gates of the Arctic National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,547 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 2,872 (#63 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 7,523,897.45 acres
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Ryjil Christianson // Wikimedia Commons

#58. Lake Clark National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,568 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 4,948 (#61 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 2,619,816.49 acres
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Katmai National Park and Preserve // Wikimedia Commons

#59. Katmai National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,643 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 51,511 (#54 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,674,529.33 acres
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LCGS Russ // Wikimedia Commons

#60. Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,705 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 11,185 (#58 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,750,716.16 acres
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jo Crebbin // Shutterstock

#61. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 4,603 miles
- Date founded: August 1, 1916
- 2020 visitors: 589,775 (#27 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 325,605.28 acres
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MH Anderson Photography // Shutterstock

#62. Haleakalā National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 4,610 miles
- Date founded: July 1, 1961
- 2020 visitors: 319,147 (#40 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 33,264.62 acres
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Tavita Togia, National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

#63. National Park of American Samoa (American Samoa)

- Distance: 6,774 miles
- Date founded: October 31, 1988
- 2020 visitors: 4,819 (#62 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 8,256.67 acres

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