The National Park Service has 63 national parks, yet most visitors only see a small portion of what they have to offer. According to recently disclosed statistics, more than a quarter of all recreational visits were made to the eight most popular parks last year.
National parks supporter and author Stefanie Payne said of giants like Yellowstone and Yosemite, “Everyone just kind of has these great, grandiose aspirations.” But as you begin to encounter nature at a more 2.0 or 3.0 level, you might be able to connect with some slightly unique experiences, in my opinion.
America’s least frequented national parks are packed with wonders, not people, from “mind-bending” views to animals you won’t find anyplace else.
When there are fewer people there, you end up seeing things, hearing sounds, smelling smells, and generally experiencing the natural environment in a different manner, according to Payne, whose most recent book is “100 Things to See in the National Parks” (Simon & Schuster).
A national park? What do you mean by that?
The National Park Service has 424 units, ranging from national seashores to national battlefields. There are 63 official national parks out of those, including Everglades, Grand Canyon, and Zion.
Is it worthwhile to visit Gates of the Arctic?
For years, Gates of the Arctic National Park has been one of the least frequented in the United States, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s challenging to reach. In its 8.4 million acres, there are no roads or pathways. It’s not intended for inexperienced travellers to independently explore. It can get rather expensive, from hiring a guide to reserving a bush plane, but many people find it to be worthwhile.
The Alaskan parks hold a special place in Payne’s heart because they are situated in such an isolated and untamed environment. “I wouldn’t say it’s biblical, but in many respects it feels like time before humanity… Being in some of those places is truly mind-blowing, especially when the terrain is so difficult and the mountains, glaciers, and other natural obstacles are so massive that you start to question your capabilities.
People who do make the effort to travel there, in my opinion, are profoundly enriched, she continued. Alaska is home to five of the ten least frequented national parks from the previous year.
Payne, who was raised in Washington and frequented the park as a child, also holds a special place in her heart for North Cascades National Park.
It’s a part of a complex with two recreational areas, and people are more inclined to visit those, so I’m not sure why it’s always on the least visited list, she added. There are lots of opportunities for day hiking, although it’s more of a backcountry park.
Is a trip to Isle Royale National Park worthwhile?
Isle Royale National Park in Michigan is difficult to reach. To get to the park in the middle of Lake Superior, you must take an aircraft, ferry, or private boat.
You are located in a remote area, Payne said. No link exists. No internet is available. Although there is a store, the area is mostly woods.
You can actually relax, she continued. The chance to observe the northern lights as well as a lot of stars in the night sky.
Many visitors return frequently. One of the least frequented yet most frequently visited national parks, according to fans. People merely fall head over heels for it. Amazing paddling is present. Very great hiking and camping are available, according to Payne. “There is this really amazing predator-prey research (with wolves) that takes place there. Kids also adore it.
What makes Congaree National Park unique?
According to its website, South Carolina’s Congaree National Park is home to “the greatest complete stretch of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States.”
There’s very terrific fishing there, but it’s probably not on the average Joe’s radar, Payne said. It’s sort of a specialised park where birdwatchers might come across a rare species they can’t see elsewhere.
It’s a nice place to stop by if you’re in the region because it’s small and primarily a one-day attraction, she continued. You can design your own trip here, which is fantastic for imaginative explorers who appreciate the subtleties of nature.
The park has a long and illustrious past that includes housing enslaved persons prior to the Civil War. The park wrote on its website, “Facing threats from both slave catchers and the unpredictable nature, they opted to fight their enslavers and live as free people in the wilderness, selecting their own future instead of having it determined for them.”
visiting the least-visited national parks
Every national park has a unique history and breathtaking natural features.
Payne, who visited every national park within a year and several times, noted that it is crucial to keep an open mind.
She advises conducting preliminary research, just like she did, to maximise travel opportunities. “Reading up about a park before you visit is a really valuable approach to enhance your experience,” said the park rangers.
USA TODAY will highlight all 63 of America’s national parks this year and provide more information about what can be found in each one.