We’re all familiar with the major national parks in the US, such as Death Valley, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion. However, there are lesser-known parks that it pays to add to your radar if you want to avoid the crowds. Here are 5 off the beaten path national parks to add to your wishlist this season.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
This conifer-clad realm of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and startling blue lakes is located 107 miles northeast of Seattle.
N Cascades Highway follows the course of the Skagit River and ensures a scenic drive at all times of the year. Activities to enjoy in the North Cascades National Park, Washington, include hiking, rafting, fishing, and wildlife watching.
Congaree National Park, South Carolina
The Congaree National Park, South Carolina, is sited 18 miles southeast of Columbia. This park is one for dendrophiles; this green wonderland preserves the largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the country.
Channels from the Congaree and Wateree rivers carry nutrients and sediments that nourish the ecosystem and local wildlife while supporting the conservation efforts.
As the vast majority of the park occupies a floodplain, the terrain is typically flat with only slight elevation changes. Canoeing and kayaking are another popular way of getting around.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Located in western Colorado, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a deep, vertical-walled gorge that was carved through Precambrian rock by the Gunnison River.
Hiking trails and overlooks are available at both the South and North Rims. As the national park is a recognized International Dark Sky Park, the potential for stargazing is phenomenal.
Wildlife is abundant in the park with a high likelihood of spotting mule deer, elk, and golden eagles. Trout fishing in this park is some of the best in the country.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is one of the smallest national parks in the US. It is located on Mount Desert Island and is accessible via a road that connects to the mainland.
Much of the accommodation and restaurants are located in Bar Harbor. You can self-drive around the park or use the free shuttle bus to access viewpoints and hiking trails.
The Bubbles are a pair of mountains with a moderate hiking trail while the Ocean Path is a joy to walk or cycle. Remember to book a permit to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain for the best views over the park – especially if you visit at sunrise or sunset.
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park is perfect for fans of the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park – or for those with Hawaii on their bucket list.
The park is home to four types of volcanoes: lava domes, cinder cones, composite volcanoes, and shield volcanoes. Lassen Peak is in fact the largest plug dome volcano in the world. Other sights include gurgling pools of mud, hardened lava, fumaroles, and hydrothermal activity.
The park is situated 127 miles north of Sacramento where the Cascade Mountains merge with the Sierra Nevada range.
Contact me today to discuss visiting one of these lesser-known national parks for yourself.
Share the knowledge
Extraordinary trips for exceptional travelers, where the details make all the difference