Meraki Journey

Off the Beaten Path: The Six Least Visited National Parks in America

Off the Beaten Path: The Six Least Visited National Parks in America

If you love the outdoors, you probably already know about the stunning beauty of America’s national parks. Places like Zion, Yellowstone, Yosemite and of course the Grand Canyon are great travel destinations whether you’re planning a family vacation or a more challenging hiking excursion.

But in fact the United States has 63 recognized national parks, many of which you’ve probably never heard of. So if popular travel spots like the ones listed above are a little too touristy for you, we’ve collected a list of the least visited national parks in America.


North Cascades National Park

Located in the Pacific Northwest, North Cascades National Park showcases the rugged beauty of the Cascade mountain range. The National Park Service reports that in 2022, the North Cascades national park had only 30,154 visitors. Encompassing over 500,000 acres, the park is a refuge for a rich array of wildlife, from mountain goats to wolverines. 

And its glacier-formed valleys and turquoise alpine lakes create a breathtaking backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts, offering opportunities for hiking, mountaineering, and backpacking. The park's complex geology hosts more than 300 glaciers, earning it the nickname "The American Alps." With its untouched grandeur and exceptional biodiversity, North Cascades National Park stands as a fantastic opportunity for hikers and mountaineers looking for a less popular park.


Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park is an enchanting wilderness sanctuary in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The park, which received 25,454 visitors in 2022, boasts pristine forests, serene inland lakes, and dramatic rocky shores that speak to its ancient geology.

Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park offers you the chance to camp in almost total solitude. One of its defining features is a thriving wilderness ecology unaffected by humans, including large populations of wolves and moose. Visitors are beckoned to hike the park’s trails, paddle its waterways, and glimpse the delicate interplay of nature.


Lake Clark National Park

Located in Alaska, Lake Clark National Park spans over 4 million acres. The park is a symphony of biodiversity, where towering mountains meet glacial lakes, boreal forests intertwine with coastal ecosystems, and wildlife flourishes. The centerpiece of the park is Lake Clark itself, surrounded by a panorama of breathtaking vistas.

Its robust habitats nurture an array of creatures, from grizzly bears and moose to salmon and migratory birds. Accessible by air or water, Lake Clark National Park is a destination for adventurers seeking solitude and immersion in the wild. Its isolated location and untouched ecology make it a memorable trip that only the most experienced campers and hikers should visit.


Kobuk Valley National Park

Situated in the wilderness of northwestern Alaska, Kobuk Valley National Park had only 16,925 visitors in 2022. At nearly 2 million acres, the park supports a diverse range of environments, from vast sand dunes to lush forests to the Kobuk River. The park's centerpiece is the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, an awe-inspiring expanse of dunes where wind-sculpted patterns evoke a sense of otherworldly beauty.

The park is also home to caribou migrations, showcasing the incredible resilience of wildlife in the face of harsh Arctic conditions. It's a realm where nature's rhythm dictates existence, and visitors are offered a glimpse into a pristine environment that has largely escaped human impact.


Gates of the Arctic National Park

To call Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve remote would be an understatement. Spanning over 8 million acres in Alaska’s Brooks Range, the park is devoid of any roads and marked by a challenging terrain of mountains, valleys, and pristine rivers. It received a mere 9,457 visitors in 2022. The park's name derives from its stunning natural rock formations that resemble colossal gates, welcoming you to the untamed wilds of northern Alaska and the Arctic Circle.

It's a destination for only the most skilled backcountry adventurers and climbers. Visitors here will experience a truly rugged and undisturbed environment, where wildlife thrives and cultures of indigenous people interweave with the land. The landscape's stark beauty, diverse ecosystems, and untouched nature make it a place of profound beauty and solitude. 

National Park of American Samoa

The National Park of American Samoa is the newest addition to the national park system, and also it’s least visited. In fact, there were only 1887 visitors to this park in 2022. The park offers a range of sightseeing activities that showcase the Samoan islands’ natural beauty and cultural heritage.

The park includes approximately 13,500 acres of land across three main islands and 4,000 acres of marine protected area. Hiking trails totaling 26 miles wind through lush rainforests, offering glimpses of indigenous flora and fauna. Beneath the waves, vibrant coral reefs beckon snorkelers and divers, showcasing the marine beauty of the park's Fagatele Bay and Coral Triangle.

Or you can immerse yourself in local culture by visiting traditional Samoan villages, where you can engage with residents and learn about their heritage. Keep an eye out for the park's diverse wildlife, from fruit bats to sea turtles, all monitored and safeguarded by the National Park Service.

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