Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
America has 63 National Parks, some of which are world-famous and others that have slipped completely under the radar.
Of all the 63 National Parks, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park sees the most visitors, with over 14 million people visiting its landscape every year.
On the opposite end of the scale, however, are the nation’s least visited parks, which see just a fraction of that amount. And by a fraction, I mean less than 10,000 people per year.
But just because not many people have gone before you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the nation’s hidden gems. So if you’re looking for the next National Park to add to your list, here are 10 great options to choose from.
Denali National Park, Alaska
You’ll find quite a few of the National Parks on this list are from Alaska—7 to be exact—and that probably comes down to the state being so remote. The Denali National Park covers 6 million acres and has a mix of varied terrain, including its namesake peak, Denali.
Denali stands at just over 20,000 feet, making it the tallest peak in North America and one of the top attractions in the National Park. And like many National Parks in Alaska, the Denali National Park is home to hundreds of grizzlies as well as plenty of other animal species for you to feast your eyes on.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
The Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles out of Key West in Florida and includes seven small islands that make up part of Florida Key’s reef system.
Dry Tortugas’ fairly remote location makes it one of the least visited National Parks in America, with around 80,000 people visiting it every year. If you decide to head to Dry Tortugas—which you should—make sure you visit Fort Jefferson—one of the nation’s largest 19th-century forts.
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Up in Alaska is the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve which sees only 10,000-11,000 visitors a year. But just because Gates of Arctic isn’t the top National Park destination, it doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.
For adventurers who truly want to get out and experience the wilderness, there really is no place better than the Gates of the Arctic. You can even see the Northern Lights come nightfall.
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
The Great Basin National Park in Alaska welcomes around 90,000 visitors a year. But I personally think it deserves far more recognition. The Great Basin National Park is home to deserts, mountains, fossils, springs, glaciers, caves, and countless animal and plant species, meaning there is something new to look at around every corner. You’ll also find some of the country’s best stargazing opportunities in Great Basin as the night lights with millions upon millions of stars.
Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Yellowstone is often the place travelers visit if they want to see bears. But the Alaskan National Park of Katmai has even better bear sighting opportunities. Katmai National Park is home to breathtaking landscapes and over 2,000 resident brown bears—the most in any of America’s National Parks.
As Katmai is exclusively accessed by plane or boat, only 25,000 people a year visit the park and its wild inhabitants, but if you’re after a park that not many people have been to, it’s definitely one of the best.
Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska
The Kobuk Valley National Park and its sculpted dunes are on the migration route for caribou and play host to the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes—the largest active sand dunes in all of the Arctic.
The sand dunes in Kobuk Valley formed over thousands of years thanks to glaciers grinding down the rocks. But now, the National Park is dotted with bear, wolf, and moose tracks, making it a great destination for wildlife lovers. As only 11,000 people visit the park a year, it is one of those places where you can truly get in tune with nature and appreciate the world that we live in.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Roughly 18,000 people visit the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve every year, making it one of the least visited National Parks in the country. But even though it doesn’t draw in millions of visitors like Yellowstone and the Rocky Mountain National Park, it doesn’t mean you should cross it off your National Park bucket list.
Lake Clark gives its visitors turquoise lakes, towering mountains, glaciers, and the chance to spot brown bears, all in a serene and peaceful setting that you don’t quite get to experience in the most visited parks in America.
National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa
Two thousand six hundred miles southwest of Hawaii is the National Park of American Samoa, and if it wasn’t for its remote location, I’m sure it would see thousands—if not millions—more visitors than it currently does. American Samoa has around 8,500 visitors throughout a calendar year. And all of those people visited the island by airplane.
Although the views of American Samoa from the sky are absolutely breathtaking, once you touch down on land, you begin to truly understand just how beautiful this National Park is. American Samoa provides crystal clear waters, coral sand beaches, and more aquatic life than you’ve seen in your entire existence combined—the park is home to over 991 species of fish, after all!
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Outside of Seattle lies the North Cascades National Park which offers the most glacier views in America, outside of Alaska. Despite the park’s scenery and abundance of outdoor activities, only 18,000 people visit the park annually—likely because of its incredible amount of snowfall that runs from autumn through to spring.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska is America’s biggest National Park. However, despite its size, it only sees around 50,000 visitors a year. Home to America’s largest glacial system, Wrangell-St. Elias is one of the best National Parks for those in search of tall mountains, glaciers, and an area with very few people around. You can even see smoke coming out of Mount Wrangell—one of the world’s largest active volcanoes—on days when the weather is particularly clear.
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