6 Underrated National Parks for Avoiding the Crowds
One thing is for sure as summer gets into full swing: some of our most popular national parks are going to get a little crowded. But if you intend to visit a national park this summer to get away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, don't worry. Some of the least visited national parks in the country are also some of the most fun, and there are still plenty of unique places to get away from the summer crowds.
National Park of American Samoa
Scattered across three distinct islands in the South Pacific, National Park of American Samoa is a winsome tropical paradise that remains bafflingly under the radar. In addition to all the activities that typically come with any beach getaway – you'll find opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing galore – American Samoa also offers the chance to explore a unique culture and history, a stunning volcanic landscape, and a dizzying assortment of colorful birds and wildlife.
North Cascades National Park
Way up at the northern border of Washington state, North Cascades National Park is startling in its beauty. Despite being less than three hours from Seattle, this park receives relatively few visitors. All the better for anyone who wants to explore its jagged peaks, alpine forests, pristine lakes, and more than 300 glaciers in peace.
Waco Mammoth National Monument
One of the newest additions into the National Park System, Texas’ Waco Mammoth National Monument was created on July 10, 2015, when President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation to protect its rich fossil deposits. Scarcely 20,000 people visited the park in its first year – for comparison, more than 200 times that many people visited Grand Canyon National Park –which means you can view its unique fossil herd of Columbian mammoths without fighting the crowds for a view.
Isle Royale National Park
On a remote island surrounded by the capricious waters of Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park offers a level of solitude almost unheard of in the lower 48 states. Accessible only by ferry or private boat, the island is covered in dense forest, crisscrossed by hiking trails, and dotted with remote backcountry tent campsites that lack amenities of any kind.
César E. Chávez National Monument
César E. Chávez led California farm workers and supporters to establish the United States' first permanent agricultural union, which resulted in widespread increases in wages and improvements to working conditions across the country. Though Chávez is widely regarded as the United States’ most important Latino leader of the 20th century, a national monument in his honor was not dedicated until 2012. Today, César E. Chávez National Monument represents a fascinating and often-overlooked chapter in our history.
Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve
Alaska's Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve was visited by just 1,133 people in 2015. Let that number sink in for a second. That's fewer people than visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the average hour. Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve offers more than 2.5 million acres of untouched wilderness without a single road and nary a soul in sight. You'll find rolling whitewater, remote hiking trails, pristine fishing streams, and rustic backcountry cabins, but keep one thing in mind – this is true wilderness, with all the thrills, solitude, and potential dangers that go with it. Don't approach it lightly.
In the summer, you can skip the long lines and steer clear of the masses by taking a trip to one of America's least crowded national parks. It's been said that there are no blank spaces left on the map, but these hidden national parks prove there are still some forgotten corners.
Interested in finding other hidden gems of the National Park System? Get your free copy of our national park guide, “The Places Nobody Knows,” packed with 25 extraordinary destinations where you can #FindYourPark.