Seeking Shelter from Black Friday Madness

November 24, 2015NPF Blog
Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve — Steve Andrews/NPS

Just over the horizon and hidden from plain view lie some of the world’s most remote wildernesses. These national parks, though seldom-visited, beg to be explored. This Black Friday, avoid the shopping masses and head to one of these secluded national parks. Nature offers the best deals and the experience that these parks offer is priceless.

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

The north fork of the Koyukuk River in the valley at Gates of the Aractic National Park & Preserve
Ken Hill/NPS

It's no surprise that Alaska is home to one of the most wild and isolated parks in America, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. There are no roads or man-made structures of any kind within this final frontier. Gates of the Arctic encompasses one of the last true wildernesses in the United States, complete with untamed rivers and herds of wild caribou migrating through glacier-carved valleys. It's the farthest north of any national park in the country, and the second-largest of its kind (behind the 13.2 million-acre Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, also in Alaska). 

Dry Tortugas National Park

The vibrant green Bush Key in the bright blue sea seen from the fort at Dry Tortugas National Park
Glenn Gardner/NPS

If Alaska in November isn't quite for you—and no one could blame you if that’s the case—Dry Tortugas National Park might be more up your alley. Located off the southern tip of Florida, this park spans 100 square miles, all of it water except for seven small islands. Despite its white sand beaches, incredible fishing, coral reefs teeming with aquatic life, and countless shipwrecks ripe for exploration, this tropical paradise remains well under the radar.

Death Valley National Park

Snow-dusted Black Mountains behind a desert landscape at Death Valley National Park
National Park Service

Death Valley National Park is one of the driest and most isolated places in the United States, but this seemingly barren expanse of earth may just surprise you. While the floor of the valley is bone-dry and far below sea level, snow often adorns the tops of the surrounding mountains, and rare thunderstorms bring colorful explosions of lush wildflowers to the desert landscape.

Isle Royale National Park

A colorful orange, red, and purple sunset behind the hills and the lake at Isle Royale National Park
National Park Service

Isle Royale National Park is a cluster of islands hidden amid our largest Great Lake, Lake Superior. The only way to get to this secret Michigan beauty is by boat or seaplane, and once you get there, you won't find cellphone service or developed facilities of any kind. Instead, you'll be hiking and camping in your own private wilderness, just shy of the Canadian border. 

Big Bend National Park

Endless horizon in Big Bend National Park

The isolation of Big Bend National Park is what draws so many visitors to this expansive 801,163-acre wilderness in South Texas. The absence of any nearby towns gives Big Bend some of the clearest night skies in the country. Miles of hiking and horseback-riding trails will lead you to wild backcountry campsites where you will spend your nights relaxing in solitude under the stars.

This year is the perfect opportunity to start a new kind of Black Friday tradition. Instead of joining the crowd of people at your nearest outlet store, take a trip to one of America's most remote and wild places. Thanksgiving may be over, but you might just discover something new to be thankful for.

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