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State parks shine during shutdown

By Katia Hetter, CNN
Updated 8:24 AM EDT, Tue October 15, 2013

(CNN) — Want to marvel at California’s giant sequoias or hike the Mount Katahdin section of the Appalachian Trail? With most of the United States’ national parks still shuttered, the country’s stunning state parks are getting some well-deserved attention.

There are more than 7,800 state park sites around the country, attracting over 720 million visits per year, according to the National Association of State Park Directors. By comparison, the National Park Service’s 401 sites had over 282 million visitors last year. Many state park visitors are repeat visitors, enjoying the state parks near where they live. Here are some of our favorites.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California

Known for its North Grove of giant sequoias, Calaveras Big Trees State Park became a state park more than 80 years ago. Within the grove is the first redwood documented by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852, known as the “Discovery Tree” and the “Big Stump.” This park is considered the state’s longest continuously operated tourist site. The South Grove has a five-mile hiking trail through the sequoias. Located about 150 miles north of San Francisco, the park is open for day visitors and campers.

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