We recently rounded up IgoUgo members’ tips for America’s most visited national parks, but if you’re the type of traveler who reads “most visited” as “most crowded,” take a look at the parks our members like for more solitary pursuits instead. All six picks were among the 15 least visited national parks last year, and all offer a wilderness that’s increasingly hard to come by.
1. Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, Alaska
says: “The park itself is classified as a wilderness area and has nothing as convenient as a hiking trail. The conditions in the park, even in summer, are difficult for a number of reasons, but the experience will be memorable, guaranteed. There are no trees growing in the area, making it easier to spot, especially with good binoculars, wild animals.”
In Wiseman, Alaska, just outside the park, IgoUgo member david sports a classic Gates of the Arctic hairdo: frost.
2. North Cascades National Park, Washington
says: “The sound of water is always present in the North Cascades, and the Thunder Knob Trail was no exception. We enjoyed little treats along the way, such as moss-covered rock outcroppings, tiny waterfalls, and a pond with a pair of mallards. The animals along the trail seem fairly wary of humans, which I found refreshing--no tame chipmunks looking for handouts. We did not see much sign that many people had recently passed that way.”
In front of the North Cascades’ Liberty Bell Mountain and Cutthroat Peak, aggie98 takes a break.
3. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
mtemail says: “You can get to the island one of two ways: by a large tourist boat or by seaplane. I recommend the Seaplanes of Key West; the 2pm flight is a terrific time to fly because it gets you on the island when no one else is there. It gives you a private tropical island with the most spectacular water views. The trip is a little costly, but I can say without a doubt it was worth every cent and I would gladly and willingly do it again.”
The mtemail family enjoys snorkeling on a very empty island.
4. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Alaska
daph24ne says: “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to just completely get away from the world? That is exactly what my husband and I did when we visited Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. If you are adventurous, enjoy hiking, and don't mind roughing it--at least in some form--then this trip is for you. It's especially nice if you'd like to see a national park that hasn't yet been commercialized or exploited.”
As daph24ne’s photo shows, the town of McCarthy, located inside Wrangell-St. Elias, may be the only place you’ll see people in America’s largest national park.
5. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
TheRoadies says: “A real ‘must-see’ is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We were not familiar with this national park, but decided to do a bit of exploring. To our delight and amazement it turned out to be one of our favorite parks in the United States. I personally liked it better than Yosemite (which of course is a very nice park).”
Malahini’s photo echoes her review: “If you need to feel like an insignificant stranger in an overwhelming universe, this is the place to visit."
6. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
haslo04 says: “Voyageurs is the only national park in America without a road. It’s comprised of several large lakes dotted with dozens of little islands to be explored with a boat. It offers a wonderful experience of simply getting into the canoe and going wherever you want. The northern shore of the main Lake Kabetogama represents the great American north woods, full of fir, birch, and occasional beaver. Just imagine slowly paddling across perfectly still water, under the pink cover of a sun-setting sky, and with loons and wolves singing in the distance. Hard to imagine a better way to spend a summer evening.”
Kayaker haslo04 is the only one in sight on Lake Kabetogama in Voyageurs.
Become a fan of IgoUgo on Facebook here.
Follow IgoUgo on Twitter here.