When it comes to stunning National Parks, plenty come to mind, such as Yellowstone or The Grand Canyon, but this means it comes to mind for everyone else too, and those places can become crowded during summer. Lucky for us, so many beautiful places to explore are less well-known. A popular internet forum recently discussed some of the most underrated parks in the U.S., and people agreed that these were the top ten.
1. The Sequoia and Kings Canyon, California
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks showcase awe-inspiring giant sequoias and deep canyons. One forum member says they camped there as a kid and described it as a “magical place.” Another traveler agreed, saying, “I actually think it's the superior backcountry experience.”
2. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
This picturesque mountain range features an immersive outdoor experience. You can find both cabin or motel-style lodging and camping grounds. The park's pristine lakes, rivers, and forests are teaming with wildlife, perfect for those who love to nature-watch.
One adventurer says, “Many people drive through on their way to Yellowstone and never stop, but the Tetons are gorgeous.” Another adds, “Hiking in the Tetons was life-changing for me.”
3. Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend National Park features vast deserts, towering mountains, and the meandering Rio Grande. “It has everything,” says one poster. “Rainforest, desert, snow-capped mountains, hot springs, and an unbelievable night sky.” Another person adds, “River Road heading into the park from the west is a totally awesome drive. The remoteness is the least crowded of all the parks, and you can really get away if you desire.”
4. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado
Black Canyon is known for its dramatic cliffs and narrow gorges, providing a utopia for rock climbers and hikers. Several people felt that the park deserved more attention. “It's a shame that Grand Canyon gets all the credit,” says one respondent.
Another says, “You can be super active and hike to the bottom of the canyon, or just relax and watch the light change on the walls. Both sides are worth visiting, too.”
5. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Located in Utah's south-central desert, this park features colorful canyons and towering sandstone cliffs. Ancient petroglyphs and painted pictographs survive as a testament to the area's long human history. You can even pick fresh fruit in the orchard, a few miles from the visitor's center.
These trees, including apricot, apple, peach, and pear, were planted by pioneers in the late 19th century. According to a few forum members, pie is available here. One poster attests that “The pie is the best pie I've had in my life.”
6. Acadia National Park, Maine
This coastal paradise blends rugged cliffs, serene lakes, and dense forests. Its rocky shoreline offers spectacular views, while Cadillac Mountain beckons with stunning sunrises. Hiking trails, carriage roads, and diverse wildlife make Acadia a sanctuary for outdoor exploration and scenic beauty.
Forum members were unsure if this park counted as underrated, saying it was quite popular. One suggests, “Acadia is so beautiful. Amazing scenery, and you can still find peace and solitude there by going slightly off-season.”
7. Isle Royale National Park
Found in Lake Superior, it is a remote wilderness escape. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, it offers untouched forests, pristine lakes, and abundant wildlife. Hikers can explore rugged trails and encounter moose and wolves, immersing themselves in the park's unspoiled natural beauty. Several respondents said this park was on their bucket list of places to visit.
8. North Cascades, Washington
Expect snow-capped peaks, cascading waterfalls, pristine alpine lakes, and ancient forests. Hikers, climbers, and nature lovers are rewarded with sensational vistas and abundant wildlife, making it a paradise for outdoor adventurers.
One traveler says, “The drive along Highway 20 alone is mesmerizing, particularly if you are in a sedan or motorcycle and go on a quiet weekday. Jewel tone lakes, waterfalls coming from cliffs along the road, and beautiful peak after peak.”
9. Crater of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho
This park is unique, revealing a unique volcanic landscape. Its vast lava flows, cinder cones, and lava tubes create an otherworldly atmosphere. Hiking through hardened lava fields and exploring underground caves showcase the park's fascinating geology, offering a surreal experience. A hiker says, “I've been twice and wouldn't be opposed to going again. There's a lot to see, and it's nothing like anywhere else.”
10. Death Valley, California, and Nevada
This land of extremes has vast desert expanses, towering sand dunes, and rugged mountains that create a dramatic backdrop. With record-breaking temperatures, salt flats, and colorful canyons, Death Valley is a mesmerizing destination for adventurers desiring both beauty and challenges.
One person says, “Death Valley blew my mind. There is so much to explore to fill several days, and I feel bad for all the people who pass through without stopping.”
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