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5 Underrated National Parks to Visit in the US This Summer



5 Underrated National Parks to Visit in the US This Summer

The United States is one of the largest countries in the world with more than 9,857,348 square kilometers for travelers to explore. It is home to iconic cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami, as well as countless mid-sized cities and quaint small towns, each with their own unique charm. Lively beach resorts on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans offer plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun and world-famous tourist destinations such as Disney World and Las Vegas attract visitors from all over the world. It would take months to experience the entire country, and while it is certainly worth visiting some of these vibrant attractions, the best way to experience America is to explore its diverse natural beauty.

Throughout the United States you will find endless miles of golden desert, rugged mountains, wild rivers, lush old-growth forests, vibrant wetlands, and endless miles of grassy prairie. Despite near-constant population growth, many of these natural wonders have been well preserved through the creation of national parks. The United States was the first country to establish a national park system with the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. Since then, 63 national parks and more than 400 national parks have been added to the list of protected areas. America’s national parks are open to everyone, and many attract millions of visitors from around the world every year. Many of the most iconic places become incredibly busy, especially during peak summer travel. They’re all incredible, but if you want to escape the summer crowds for some solitude in nature, plan a trip to some of the lesser-known hidden gems around the country.

Dry Tortugas

If you’re looking for a beach escape or want to visit Disney World, it’s just a short trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, which is located about 70 miles off the coast of Key West Florida. This national park is a little different because it is mostly water, with a few small islands to explore. It’s often pushed aside in favor of Everglades National Park, but if you’re interested in marine life, this is the place. It is only accessible by seaplane or boat, which further discourages crowds. Visitors can enjoy sparkling smart waters and colorful coral reefs, as well as historic Fort Jefferson, which dates back to the 1800s. It is a great destination for diving and snorkeling, as well as bird watching.

New River Gorge National Park

One of the most underrated parks in the US is also the most recent addition to the country’s national park system. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve was officially established in 2020, but before that it was a protected national river. Located in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, it encompasses 70,000 acres of land surrounding 53 miles of the wild New River. The area is extremely popular for paddle sports, including whitewater rafting and kayaking. All along the river, whitewater rafting enthusiasts can experience long pools surrounded by lush forests, as well as white-hot Class I-IV rapids. Adventures on the Gorge is a fantastic outdoor recreation provider that offers whitewater rafting, as well as other experiences such as mountain biking and rock climbing.

Big Bend National Park

Despite the fact that it is one of the largest national parks in the country with more than 800,000 hectares Big bend is one of the least visited parks in the country. Only about 500,000 people travel there every year. In a park as vast as Big Bend, there’s plenty of room to spread out and find solitude in nature. Big Bend is located in a remote part of Texas, which deters many visitors looking for a place close to a major city. If you’re willing to make the journey, you’ll be rewarded with miles of desert, epic canyons, forested mountains, and the winding Rio Grande River. There are over 150 miles of hiking trails to explore. Big Bend is also an International Dark Sky Reserve. The lack of light pollution makes it one of the best places in the country for stargazing.

Canyonlands National Park

Utah is known for its breathtaking natural landscapes. The western state is home to five national parks, including some of the country’s most popular, such as Zion and Bryce Canyon. Canyonlands National Park is one of the least visited of Utah’s Big Five, with just over 400,000 visitors per year, but it is no less beautiful than the others. It’s close to Arches National Park and Moab, and you can easily visit all three in one road trip. During your visit, whitewater raft along the Colorado River (the same river that carved out the majestic Grand Canyon) and enjoy breathtaking views of the slot canyons that Utah is famous for.

Pinnacle National Park

Pinnacle National Park

With nine national parks, California has more than any other US state. Pinnacle National Park is often passed over in favor of popular tourist destinations such as Joshua Tree, Yosemite and Death Valley. With over 26,000 hectares and less than 350,000 annual visitors, it is the perfect park to relax in a beautiful natural environment without hordes of other tourists. The park is named after its iconic rock formations and visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, rock climbing and enjoying the scenery and wildlife. It can get quite hot in the summer, so make sure you have plenty of water on hand. Spring offers beautiful wildflowers and ideal temperatures.