Many people from around the world come to see the famous parks in the United States, but many other parks are just as beautiful. Here are twelve underrated national parks filled with stunning scenery and various exciting attractions that you’ll definitely want to add to your bucket list.
1. Glacier Bay, Alaska
The park is located within a World Heritage Site that spans over 25,000,000 acres, making it one of the largest international protected areas in the world. The park is a never-ending source of exploration and creativity. The park is accessible by boat or on foot for visitors’ convenience.
2. Kenai Fjords, Alaska
Exit Glacier, Harding Icefield, and the coastline are the three primary features of this park. To protect its fjord and rainforest habitats, the Harding Icefield, abundant wildlife, and historical and archeological remnants, the park was first designated a national monument in 1978 and then a national park in 1980. Brown and black bears, moose, sea otters, harbor seals, humpback whales, and killer whales are just some of the marine and terrestrial creatures that call this area home.
3. Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake is the park’s centerpiece and draws visitors by its stunning blue color and pristine water. A relic of the extinct volcano Mount Mazama, the lake is located inside the park’s boundaries, along with the surrounding hills and woods. It is one of the cleanest lakes on the earth and the deepest lake in the United States.
4. Redwood, California
Along the coast of northern California is a complex of many state and national parks known as the Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP). The United RNSP covers 139,000 acres and comprises California’s Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks, all founded in the 1920s. The park’s most prominent feature is the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), the tallest tree species on Earth. It is wholly contained within the counties of Del Norte and Humboldt.
5. Badlands, South Dakota
This park has impressive rock formations that house one of the most extensive fossil beds on the planet, where ancient horses and rhinos lived. But today, it’s home to bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets because of the park’s 244,000 acres of protected grassland. The park is open year-round and offers a variety of activities such as hiking, camping, stargazing, and wildlife watching.
6. Sequoia, California
Its giant sequoia trees make it famous, especially General Sherman, the world’s largest tree by volume. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, home to five of the world’s ten largest trees. The Generals Highway connects the Giant Forest to Kings Canyon National Park’s General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree and other giant sequoias.
7. Dry Tortugas, Florida
Fort Jefferson, a huge but unfinished coastal stronghold, is the park’s focal point. With over 16 million bricks, Fort Jefferson is the largest brick masonry construction in the Americas. The park protects Fort Jefferson and other Dry Tortugas islands, the most western and isolated of the Florida Keys.
8. Haleakala, Hawaii
Haleakala (East Maui) Volcano last erupted between 1480 and 1600 AD and is a featured attraction in the park. Numerous hiking routes provide opportunities for quiet reflection and breathtaking views. The park is home to more endangered species than any other in the National Park Service. Campsites and chalets are available for overnight guests.
9. White Sands, New Mexico
Part of the largest gypsum dune field on the planet is preserved at this park, making it one of a kind. The 275 square miles (710 square kilometers) of desert that make up the dune field have been enveloped by wave-like dunes of gypsum sand. One of the park’s most captivating sights lies in the striking contrast between the brilliant white sand and the vibrant blue sky, leaving visitors in awe of its breathtaking beauty.
10. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico, nestled within the Guadalupe Mountains, boasts the captivating Carlsbad Cavern as its main attraction. With its vast network of caves, the park attracts 40 million visitors annually, offering self-guided hikes and elevator access for exploration.
11. Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska
Wrangell-St. Elias is an exciting location for adventurers of all kinds, thanks to its vast geography. Visitors can enjoy various outdoor pursuits like rock climbing, hiking, rafting, and fishing. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is the largest national park in the United States, covering an area of about 13 million acres. The park is famous for its stunning views of Mount Wrangell’s sporadic smoke eruptions.
12. Congaree, South Carolina
This park is famous for its vast collection of old-growth hardwood trees, with over 80 species thriving here. Designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1983, the park offers hiking and guided tours along the Cedar Creek canoe trail. The best times to visit are spring and fall to avoid swampy and mosquito-prone conditions during warmer months.
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