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Great Smoky Mountains busy with visitors on National Trails Day

One survey found nearly a third of Americans plan to take a road trip this summer.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn — When Raymond and Zabrina Kelly began looking at summer destinations, a trip to Colorado was high on their list. 

But as concerns over COVID-19 began to spread, the Tampa couple started looking at other options.

"Not wanting to fly anywhere, we were looking for something that we could drive to," Zabrina Kelly said. "That's kind of how we ended up here."

On National Trails Day, Raymond and Zabrina Kelly hiked to Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"It was 2.6 miles, but it felt more like 10," Zabrina said with a laugh. "But it's gorgeous once you get up there and the water's cool and refreshing, so well worth it."

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A GasBuddy survey found 31 percent of Americans still plan to take a road trip this summer. The Wood family chose the Smoky Mountains for theirs.

"We had a trip planned to see family that got canceled, it required air flight," Britta Wood said. "We went to Cade's Cove... Clingman's Dome."

She and her family were visiting the mountains from Ocala, Florida. Her son Ryan loved the different places they saw.

"it's just filled with nature and it's just quiet," he said. "You're just outside of people and buildings. It's peaceful."

Matthew Russ of Shelby, North Carolina, came for the fresh air too.

"Actually being able to enjoy nature instead of being cooped up inside your house all day is really refreshing," Russ said. "There's just so much nature here really that you can't drive by without stopping and taking a look."

Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitors centers, as well as some campgrounds and roads, will reopen on Monday.

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