No matter if you’re coming from the U.S. or from abroad, you probably know at least 5 of the most famous and visited national parks located in the states. Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, whichever you have on your mind – there is no doubt that your list is filled with wonderful and breathtaking national parks. However, like many things in life, there are places on this planet that don’t get the right amount of attention even though they are definitely worth the visit. Have you heard about the underrated national parks in the U.S.?
Pay attention to the most underrated national parks in the U.S.
There are these incredible destinations in the U.S. where nature has a way of taking your breath away the moment you decide to visit them. However, some places rarely get the attention they deserve and are often forgotten to be mentioned as must visit destinations, even though their landscape is quite astonishing. Do you happen to know of any such place?
The great thing about visiting underrated national parks is that you get to explore something that is not mainstream and still enjoy every second of it and fall in love with every sight. Another great thing is the freedom and peace, the joy of a place not being attacked by a huge number of tourists and their selfie sticks. Wouldn’t you like to spend a day at such a destination, surrounded by some amazing sights and the sounds of nature itself? Of course you would, this Earth is meant to be explored and the heart of the wanderer can’t stay still until it does so. Well then, prepare yourself for an adventure because here are the most underrated national parks in the U.S. you should definitely visit one day:
North Cascades National Park
The home of various types of animals, including one of the cutest animals on Earth called Pika, North Cascades is offering a day of sightseeing like no other. The rugged mountain peaks and the incredible glaciers are just a part of what can make your day here memorable. The big number of lakes and ponds located in North Cascades, accompanied by some fantastic flora, make the area a great place for camping and mountaineering. What you must try once you step your foot here is white-water rafting in the Stehekin River, an enjoyable way to experience the picturesque surroundings.
Capitol Reef National Park
Once you get to Capitol Reef, and we hope you will manage to get there by a car, a bike or a bus, you will most definitely experience the most scenic drive of your life. Having such interesting and colorful rock formations, there’s no doubt that this park is perfect for a long hike. You’ll have so much fun discovering the slot canyons and the Waterpocket Fold – a geological landform that is the most significant imprint of Capitol Reef. Hiking is always a good idea here, but if you want to experience the area from a different perspective then you should try horse riding – it’s amazing. Additionally, if you feel like camping here you have to make sure that you have a valid permit.
Congaree National Park
Location: South Carolina
Care to see a real armadillo in its natural habitat? Then head off to Congaree, an interesting floodplain forest, an area people like to call a swamp but it is so amazing that you’ll figure it out that it’s the most beautiful swamp you have ever seen. And just because of its frequent floods and the climate and location, Congaree is naturally decorated with magnificent flora. The wooden bridges and exciting walkways help you discover the beauty of this place, while the most of fun tourists seem to get here is when they go canoeing. Once you arrive here you’ll be surprised to note how tall the trees in this area are, which is interesting to mention that they are some of the tallest in the Eastern U.S.
Virgin Islands National Park
Location: Virgin Islands
Take a look at only one photo of this place and you’ll find yourself packing your bags and leaving your home. Virgin Islands National Park is amazing and it’s not just for the beach life! Sure you’ll find yourself staring at the aquamarine water, but there’s always more to be discovered, especially in a place like this. Scuba diving and snorkeling are great activities to start the day with as they will definitely help you explore the underwater world and the attractive bays. Also, get more interested about its exciting history and go for a hike on the most popular Reef Bay Trail.
Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park consists of five out of the eight Channel Islands located in California, on the Pacific Ocean. Once you visit it, you’ll be amazed of the scenic landscapes, the magical colors of the sunset and the variety of endangered marine wildlife. Other than swimming and having some fun at the beach, remember to hike through the spectacular trails and go camping on Santa Cruz Island.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park offers some stunning views and diverse geological elements. Located in Texas, it would be so much fun to visit the river Rio Grande which is separating Mexico and the United States while flowing within the walls of Santa Elena Canyon. Big and picturesque, this national park is not to be underestimated, so visit it whenever you find it possible. Follow the breathtaking trails, visit the hot springs and enjoy your time exploring the variety of birds and other species. You can also enjoy the surroundings while you’re passing by this national park on a motorcycle.
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park is located in east-central Nevada, near the border with Utah, there’s this mountainous region known for its ancient bristlecone pines and the popular Lehman Caves located at the base of Wheeler Peak. An astonishing natural surrounding is inviting you to explore the magic of the trails and the unusual caves. For many astronomers, this is the most amazing place in the U.S. from where you can gaze at the night sky and observe the shinning stars.
Grand Teton National Park
This place is located 16 km south of Yellowstone National Park, so in case you feel like discovering the nearby destinations of the most popular outdoor tourist attraction in the U.S. then you should definitely consider visiting Grand Teton National Park. The name of this place naturally comes from the famous Teton mountain range located in this area, which is known to be one of the most inspiring range of mountains in the region. There are so many things you can do here and the scenic landscape will keep leaving you speechless as long as you keep your eyes wide open.
Turquoise ocean waters, amazing reef, and an opportunity to camp by a white sand beach are all opportunities at Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is only reachable by boat or plane, but don’t let this stop you from seeing this gorgeous and quiet place. The old fort still remains and is a stunning piece of architecture as it still stands proudly, guarding the waters of the U.S. Snorkel the coral reefs and swim in the beautiful waters that are legend to shipwrecks and treasure, or explore the old fort and the island off of the Florida Keys.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
Welcome to the largest park in the U.S. with over 13.2 million acres of Alaskan perfection. This park is six times the size of the massive Yellowstone National Park. 9 out of the 16 tallest mountains can be found in this park, and also the highest concentration of glaciers due to the extreme northern location. The park was named after Mount Wrangell which is one of the world’s largest active volcanoes. It is said that on clear days you can still see it smoking. Try some excellent fishing, canoe down the Copper River and experience the remarkable beauty of Alaska and the largest national park in the U.S.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
If you want a contrast in scenery than the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado has what you are looking for. Picture this, gorgeous tree filled mountains with white snow caps that Colorado is so popular for, and next to it a massive dune like those seen in the Sahara Desert. Stop and stare but the view is real, and it is incredible. The tallest sand dunes in North America can be found here, rising over 700 feet from the floor to the top of the dunes. The sand is from the mighty Rio Grande River that flowed through the valley, depositing the sand over the years. The Colorado wind is constantly changing the shape of the dunes, so you may not ever get the same picture twice if you visit again. The dunes are nestled in along the mountain range, and make for unparalleled photo opportunities at this uncrowded park.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Welcome to one of the deepest canyons in the country. The Gunnison River for which the canyon is named for travels down one of the steepest descents of any river in the U.S. The North Rim has a campground with a staggering 2000 foot drop nearby for fantastic views of the river and canyon below. Serious rafters can take on the Gunnison River where rapids and rocks and towering walls rising hundreds of feet in the air you make for an exciting and unforgettable journey.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Location: North Dakota
North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park is known for events in history such as when Sitting Bull fought and when General Custer challenged the Sioux. The park has wild horses, buffalo, bighorn sheep, sweeping plains and rocky badlands for the ultimate wild west scenery. Teddy Roosevelt arrived in the area now known as the Park in 1883 as a 25-year-old trying to hunt buffalo. He started several ranches and grew to love the West. Some of the ranches are now part of the park. Take a horseback ride through the park and see the amazing scenery and the Little Missouri River. Watch for buffalo that roam the area as well as wild horses and other wildlife.
Capital Reef National Park
Location: Salt Lake City
Capital Reef has stunning rock formations that reach for the sky. Brilliant reds and oranges make up the arid landscape that was once the hideout of the famous Butch Cassidy and his crew. The rock layers show over 10,000 years of sediment history on them, not to mention 1400 year ole petroglyphs of the ancient people that called this place home. Drive into the park from the west along Route 12 for views that have been used in multiple movies. The most popular hike in the park is Capitol George that leads down into a canyon, past natural water cisterns, and through the hills of this beautiful and underrated park.
Isle Royale National Park
Michigan’s Isle Royale is the largest island in the largest freshwater body of water known as Lake Superior. It ranks as the fifth least-visited park in the U.S., probably because it is hard to get to. If you do make to Isle Royale, see the clams, snails, and huge insects that thrive here that don’t anywhere else. The island has both wolves and moose on the island and also some incredible backcountry hiking. There is a boat tour that travels around the park and its many outer islands as well as a backcountry camping trip to make the perfect Royale experience.
Here they are – the most underestimated national parks in the U.S. that will surprise you with their astonishing beauty. It’s great to visit places you have heard so many great things about, but it’s often more exciting and adventurous to get off the beaten path and give less known destinations a shot – you might like them even more than the more famous ones.