Looking for the beauty of Yosemite and Yellowstone without the crowds? These under-the-radar American parks deserve a spot on your bucket list.
1. North Cascades National Park, Washington
If you want to see glaciers and temperate rainforests in one place, look no further than Washington’s North Cascades National Park. Known for its variety of ecosystems and wildlife, the park is one of the least-visited in the entire country, no doubt due to its rugged terrain and difficult hiking trails. Those up to the task, however, will get the rare experience of spotting bald eagles and hearing the numerous waterfalls that give the park its name.
2. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Located on the southwestern tip of the Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas National Park is actually closer to Cuba than the mainland and is only accessible by boat or plane. And once you make it to the site, you’re pretty much on your own—the park doesn’t provide any facilities for camping or recreational activities. But if you’re willing to prepare, you can more than enjoy the views and history of the island and famous Fort Jefferson, whose military moat resembles an infinity pool at a luxury hotel.
3. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Although it’s the largest park in the National Park Service at 13 million+ acres, Wrangell-St. Elias only averages around 65,000 visitors per year (compare that to Yosemite’s nearly 4 million visitors). With only two gravel roads, it’s a perfectly remote spot for adventurers interested in backpacking, hiking, and river rafting.
4. National Park of American Samoa
To say that visiting the National Park of American Samoa requires some effort would be an understatement—you must pass through immigration and customs to enter, camping is prohibited, and there are no restaurants located on the outer islands. However, the tropical landscapes and rich Samoan culture are worth the hassle. For a truly immersive experience, consider signing up for the park’s homestay program to room with locals and learn their unique customs.
5. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Beautifully set against the Rocky Mountains, the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado (the largest such dunes in North America) are like something from another planet. It takes hours to climb to the top of the dunes from the parking lot, but the feeling of standing alone thousands of feet in the air is well worth the trek. After taking in the vistas, descend by foot or by sled/sandboard and cool off in the Medano Creek at the bottom of the peaks.
Check out more beautiful underrated parks in America.
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