Sign In

Hardly Nobody Visits These 17 U.S. National Parks Despite Their Remarkable Attractions

Hardly Nobody Visits These 17 U.S. National Parks Despite Their Remarkable Attractions

The United States is home to a diverse range of national parks, each with its own distinct beauty and ecological significance. From the icy fjords of Alaska to the rugged peaks of the Colorado Plateau, these parks not only protect valuable ecosystems but also provide spaces for recreation and education. Despite their unique traits, these 17 U.S. national parks are visited by hardly anyone, making them perfect for those seeking a more secluded experience.

Wrangell-St. Elias (Alaska)

Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Visitors in 2023: 78,305

Every year National Park Services publishes the ranking of national parks and attractions based on visitor numbers. It is surprising to see the largest national park in the U.S. at the end of the least visited list. With its vast 13.2 million acres (actually 6 times the area of Yellowstone National Park) it includes a diverse range of landscapes from mountains to glaciers. Nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States lay here including Mt. St. Elias, the second highest. But the superlatives does not end here.

What else is at the end of this list?

Gates of the Arctic (Alaska)

Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Visitors in 2023: 11,045

Located in Alaska, this is one of the most remote and least visited parks in the U.S. National Park Services system, offering untouched wilderness of Brooke Range. It is part of one of the largest protected parkland areas in the world if you count the neighbouring Kobuk Valley National Park and Noatak National Preserve to its total area which is already vast (8,472,505 acres).

American Samoa

Photo credit: Ethan Elisara via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 12,135

The 8,256.67-acre National Park of American Samoa is a unique and remote destination located across three islands—Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū—in the South Pacific. It is also one of the few U.S. National Parks that protect tropical rainforest. The park is also home to some of the most pristine coral reefs in the Pacific, providing excellent opportunities for snorkeling and observing marine life in its natural habitat.

Lake Clark (Alaska)

Photo credit: Clayton Manche via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 16,728

This 4,030,015-acre Alaskan park is celebrated for its stunning scenery of lakes and mountains, abundant wildlife, and opportunities for solitude and backcountry adventures. It is also the ancestral homelands for the Dena’ina Athabascan people. No roads lead to it and the primary way to get there is by a small plane.

Kobuk Valley (Alaska)

Photo credit: Colin + Meg via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 17,616

This 1,750,716 acres National Park is part of one of the largest protected parkland areas in the world together with neighbouring Gates of Arctic National Park and Noatak National Preserve. Its main attraction is the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes (often referred to as the “Arctic Sahara”), which provide a surreal contrast to the typical icy Arctic scenery.

Isle Royale (Michigan)

Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Visitors in 2023: 28,965

Situated in Lake Superior, Michigan, Isle Royale is offering wilderness adventures, known for its solitude, deep forests, and population of wolves and moose. It is the largest island on the lake surrounded by 400(!) small islands.

Katmai (Alaska)

Photo credit: Pradeep Nayak via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 33,763

Located in Alaska, Katmai is most famous for the Brown Bears of Brooks Falls, where visitors can watch bears catching salmon. The 4,093,077-acre park also offers remote wilderness experiences. The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes was created by volcanic activity and offer visitors a glimpse of dried up lava flows carved by glaciers and waterfalls.

North Cascades (Washington)

Photo credit: Trevor Vannoy via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 40,351

This 504,654-acre park in Washington State is known for its rugged mountain peaks, forests, and waterfalls. North Cascades is ideal for backcountry hiking and camping. Plan in advance if you want to visit this National Park as backcountry permits are required year round.

Dry Tortugas (Florida)

Photo credit: Christopher Osten via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 84,285

Situated in the Gulf of Mexico, the 64,701-acre Dry Tortugas National Park is accessible only by boat or seaplane. It is famous for its 19th-century Fort Jefferson, crystal clear waters, and coral reefs. It’s a fantastic spot for snorkeling, exploring marine life, and learn about American history.

Great Basin (Nevada)

Photo credit: Chris Kofoed via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 143,265

In Nevada, Great Basin National Park is noted for its ancient bristlecone pines and the Lehman Caves. It offers diverse activities from spelunking to stargazing despite its small size of 77,180 acres.

Voyageurs (Minnesota)

Photo credit: Tim Umphreys via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 220,825

In Minnesota, Voyageurs National Park is a maze of interconnected waterways, ideal for boating and fishing spreading as far as 218,055 acres. The park is also known for its wooded landscapes and winter ice fishing. Ellsworth Rock Gardens is a home of approx. 200 abstract rock sculptures that delight any visitors coming to this National Park.

Guadalupe Mountains (Texas)

Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Visitors in 2023: 227,340

Located in Texas, this 86,367-acre national park is home to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, and features extensive hiking trails through rugged terrain and beautiful desert scenery. Actually, it also hosts eight of the ten highest peaks in Texas including El Capitan.

Channel Islands (California)

Photo credit: Lisha Riabinina via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 328,746

Off the coast of Southern California, this 249,600-acre park encompasses five islands noted for their unique wildlife and diverse ecosystems because of its remote location. It has 23 endemic species, which means deer mouse and island fox only lives here and nowhere else in the world. It’s a prime location for kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking.

Pinnacles (California)

Photo credit: Venti Views via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 341,220

Located in central California, Pinnacles National Park is known for its volcanic rock formations and remnants of ancient volcanic activity. It is a relatively small park spreading as far as 26,000 acres, but it is popular spot for rock climbing and cave explorations. Or trying to catch a glimpse at the California condor, which is the rarest bird in the world with less than 600 individuals

Virgin Islands

Photo credit: Hans Isaacson via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 343,685

Occupying two-thirds of St. John Island (14,737 acres) in the Caribbean, Virgin Islands National Park offers crystal-clear waters, coral reefs, and beautiful sandy beaches. The park is a haven for snorkeling, hiking, and exploring historic ruins. Famous spots are Annaberg Plantation, Reef Bay, and Trunk Bay.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison (Colorado)

Photo credit:Michael Kirsh via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 357,069

This Colorado park features a dramatic, steep-walled gorge that plunges over 2,700 feet to the Gunnison River below. The park is popular for hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing due to its dark skies.

Kenai Fjords (Alaska)

Photo credit: Dr. Vallabh Kulkarni via Unsplash.

Visitors in 2023: 387,525

Located in Alaska, Kenai Fjords National Park is renowned for its rugged beauty, with glaciers descending from the Harding Icefield into coastal fjords. The park offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing, glacier tours, and sea kayaking.

16 U.S. Hikes You Can Only Dream Of Unless You Can Get a Permit

Photo credit: Depositphotos.

16 U.S. Hikes With Permit

16 Beginner-Friendly Hikes Around the World with Views That’ll Etch into Your Memory

Photo credit: Depositphotos.

16 Beginner-Friendly Hikes Around the World

A woman sitting on a mountain. Behind her is a lake.
Travel Writer | Website

Emese Maczko is a travel blogger behind Eco Lodges Anywhere. Having explored several destinations around Europe, the US, Indonesia, and Australia, and resided in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Luxembourg, Emese possesses a keen understanding of diverse cultures and an appreciation for the beauty of each destination she visits. She advocates for sustainable travel and ecotourism.