Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

Discover the hidden treasures of nature in the least visited national parks; find tranquility and authenticity in these remote and pristine destinations.

by Krishika M

Updated Jun 20, 2023

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Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023
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Least Visited National Parks

In a world where tourism hotspots often draw large crowds, there exist hidden treasures known as national parks that offer a respite from the hustle and bustle. These lesser-known parks provide an opportunity to explore pristine landscapes, encounter diverse wildlife, and revel in the tranquility of nature without the throngs of tourists. Here is the list of the least visited national parks in the United States as of 2023:

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S.no.

National Parks

Location

1

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Alaska

2

National Park of American Samoa

American Samoa

3

Kobuk Valley National Park

Alaska

4

North Cascades National Park

Washington

5

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Alaska

6

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Alaska

7

Isle Royale National Park

Michigan

8

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Alaska

9

Dry Tortugas National Park

Florida

10

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Alaska 

Top 10 Less Crowded National Parks

In this guide, we present the top 10 less crowded national parks, where serenity, solitude, and a deeper connection with the natural world await intrepid adventurers. From remote wilderness areas to off-the-beaten-path destinations, these parks offer an escape to those seeking a more intimate and authentic outdoor experience.

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So, pack your sense of adventure and join us on a journey to discover these hidden gems in the realm of national parks.

1. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

Situated in the remote wilderness of Alaska, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve offers an unparalleled escape from the constraints of civilization. With no roads or trails and a landscape shaped by glaciers, it is a haven for travelers seeking a true backcountry experience. In 2021, the park welcomed just 7,362 visitors, solidifying its status as the least-visited national park of the year.

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Often referred to as "one of the last truly wild places on Earth" by park representatives, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve boasts an untamed and unforgiving natural environment. The park's rugged habitats can be challenging to navigate, and it is primarily recommended for experienced wilderness travelers.

However, for those seeking to venture into this pristine wilderness, there are companies available that can arrange day trips and overnight campouts, catering to visitors of various skill levels. These guided excursions provide an opportunity to revel in the beauty of the aurora-lit skies and immerse oneself in a natural setting that is unlike any other.

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is a realm of unspoiled wilderness, characterized by its untouched landscapes and the sense of solitude it imparts. The absence of human infrastructure allows nature to reign supreme, offering a profound sense of connection to the untamed world.

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Visitors are welcomed into a realm where towering mountains, vast expanses of tundra, and pristine rivers create a breathtaking backdrop for exploration and introspection.

As travelers traverse this extraordinary park, they may encounter a diverse range of wildlife that has adapted to survive in this remote and rugged environment. Grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, and Dall sheep are among the species that roam these pristine lands, adding to the sense of wonder and awe that accompanies a visit to this truly wild place.

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Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

2. National Park of American Samoa (American Samoa)

Nestled some 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa stands as a testament to the beauty of untouched nature. As one of the most remote national parks in the United States, it comes as no surprise that it receives relatively few visitors each year, and 2021 was no exception, with just 8,495 recorded visits. However, the park's lack of popularity does not diminish its worthiness as a destination.

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Visitors who are fortunate enough to embark on the journey to American Samoa's national park are greeted with mesmerizing vistas of the crystal-clear sea, stunning coral sand beaches, and a vibrant array of aquatic life. The park boasts an astounding 991 species of fish, providing snorkelers and divers with an unparalleled opportunity to observe the rich biodiversity that thrives beneath the ocean's surface.

On land, visitors can explore an extensive trail system that winds its way through the park, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Whether hiking along lush forest paths or trekking up to panoramic lookout points, the park presents a diverse range of landscapes and ecosystems to be discovered and appreciated.

Beyond its natural wonders, the National Park of American Samoa invites visitors to delve into the rich cultural heritage of the Samoan people. The park's visitor center serves as a gateway to learning more about the local culture, providing valuable insights into Samoan traditions, history, and way of life.

Additionally, the park offers a unique homestay program, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local community and gain a deeper understanding of Samoan customs and traditions firsthand.

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Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

3. Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)

Kobuk Valley National Park presents a spectacle of nature as half a million caribou undertake their annual migration, traversing the sculpted dunes that define the landscape. Within the park lies the awe-inspiring Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, the largest active sand dunes in the Arctic.

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Over thousands of years, these dunes formed as glaciers gradually ground the underlying rocks, creating an extraordinary sight that stands as a testament to the power of nature.

The sand dunes themselves are not the only attraction within Kobuk Valley National Park. The park is also a thriving habitat for a variety of wildlife, and the dunes often bear witness to the tracks left behind by bears, wolves, foxes, and moose that roam the area. As visitors explore this unique terrain, they may encounter these fascinating creatures, catching a glimpse into their natural behaviors and interactions.

The Kobuk River, meandering through the park, provides an additional dimension to the visitor experience. This waterway offers a distinctive vantage point to observe the park's flora and fauna. By boat, visitors can navigate the river and immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

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Along the riverbanks, diverse plant life flourishes, providing habitat for a multitude of species and adding to the park's ecological richness.

Kobuk Valley National Park offers a captivating blend of geological wonders, wildlife encounters, and a serene river ecosystem. Its expansive sand dunes, sculpted by ancient glaciers, evoke a sense of awe and wonder. The park's diverse wildlife, including the majestic caribou and other iconic species, contributes to its ecological significance and offers a chance to witness the wonders of nature up close.

Exploring the Kobuk River provides a unique perspective on the park's natural splendor, allowing visitors to appreciate the interplay between land and water.

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Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

4. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

Located just three hours from Seattle, North Cascades National Park presents visitors with a remarkable opportunity to witness breathtaking glacier views, rivaling those found outside of Alaska. As part of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, it is renowned for being one of the snowiest places in the world. Despite the heavy snowfall, the park offers a wide range of activities throughout the year, ensuring that there is something for everyone to enjoy.

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Adventure-seekers can partake in exhilarating river rafting trips, immersing themselves in the rushing waters and untamed beauty of the park. For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, horseback riding provides a unique perspective, allowing riders to traverse the picturesque landscapes and take in the scenic vistas.

Backpacking enthusiasts are drawn to North Cascades National Park for its extensive network of trails that stretch for hundreds of miles. Hikers can embark on epic journeys, exploring the diverse terrain and immersing themselves in the pristine wilderness.

The park caters to all skill levels, offering short and scenic strolls for beginners as well as longer trails that wind alongside glaciers, providing a thrilling experience for more advanced hikers.

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The alpine landscape of North Cascades National Park captivates visitors with its rugged beauty. Towering peaks, glistening glaciers, and alpine meadows create a postcard-perfect setting, inviting exploration and discovery. Whether embarking on a leisurely hike or a challenging climb, the park's diverse landscapes offer endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Throughout the seasons, North Cascades National Park showcases its ever-changing beauty. Spring brings vibrant wildflowers that blanket the valleys, while summer reveals sparkling lakes and streams teeming with life. Autumn paints the landscape with hues of gold and crimson, and winter transforms the park into a winter wonderland, drawing in cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

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Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

5. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

While Lake Clark National Park and Preserve may rank as the fifth least-visited national park in the United States, seasoned travelers who have explored all of America's national parks often consider it one of the best-kept secrets.

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This Alaskan gem offers visitors an iconic and unparalleled experience. The park's picturesque landscapes are adorned with breathtaking turquoise lakes, towering mountains, and awe-inspiring glaciers. Immerse yourself in the splendor of the surroundings as you embark on activities such as kayaking, hiking, or powerboating along the pristine lakes and rivers.

One of the highlights of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is its remarkable wildlife, particularly its population of majestic brown bears. The park provides a unique opportunity to witness these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, creating unforgettable encounters for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Observing brown bears as they roam freely in this untamed wilderness is an experience that few other places can offer.

In addition to the captivating wildlife, the park's natural wonders encompass a diverse range of outdoor activities. Kayakers can paddle across the tranquil lakes, basking in the serenity of the surroundings and taking in the breathtaking views. Hikers can explore the park's trails, venturing deep into the heart of nature and discovering hidden gems along the way.

Adventurers can also navigate the lakes and rivers by powerboat, allowing for exploration of more remote areas and the chance to discover secluded corners of this vast wilderness.

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Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

6. Katmai National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

Katmai National Park and Preserve, located on Alaska's northern peninsula, was designated as a national park and preserve in 1980. This remarkable destination is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife. Due to its remote location, access to the park is primarily limited to plane or boat transportation, with several operators offering air taxi service and flightseeing tours.

Flightseeing tours are hailed as one of the most awe-inspiring ways to experience Katmai National Park and Preserve. From the vantage point of the sky, visitors are treated to a truly dramatic perspective that showcases the immense size and diverse terrain of the area. The aerial view reveals a captivating blend of tundra, freshwater lakes, and majestic volcanoes, offering a glimpse of the park's striking natural beauty.

As the flight traverses the skies, passengers also have the opportunity to spot the incredible wildlife that calls Katmai home. Brown bears and moose roam freely within the park, captivating onlookers with their presence. In fact, Katmai is home to more than 2,000 brown bears, making it one of the prime destinations for bear viewing in the world.

These magnificent animals are held in such high regard within the park that an annual event called Fat Bear Week takes place, allowing enthusiasts to celebrate and determine the fattest bears in the park.

Beyond the aerial perspective and wildlife encounters, Katmai National Park and Preserve offers a wealth of outdoor adventures and natural wonders. Hiking through the park's trails immerses visitors in its rugged beauty, with opportunities to witness geothermal activity, marvel at pristine lakes, and observe a diverse array of plant and animal species.

The park's stunning landscapes provide a backdrop for nature enthusiasts to engage in photography, camping, fishing, and exploring the untouched wilderness.

Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

7. Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

Isle Royale National Park, nestled in Michigan, USA, stands as a hidden gem within the national park system. It ranks among the least visited parks, even when compared to its counterparts in Alaska.

The park's allure stems, in part, from its unique location—a collection of 450 islands scattered across the vast expanse of Lake Superior. This remote setting contributes to its relative obscurity among park-goers. The challenge of accessing Isle Royale serves as a deterrent for many, as there are no direct road connections to the park.

Reaching the main island of Isle Royale requires embarking on a ferry journey, with the shortest route taking approximately two hours. However, the transportation costs, ranging from $60 to $100 per passenger, further discourage casual visitors from exploring this secluded paradise.

Yet, it is precisely this seclusion that lends Isle Royale its distinct charm and allure. Once visitors overcome the logistical hurdles, they are rewarded with an untouched wilderness that feels worlds away from the demands of modern life.

The pristine landscapes of Isle Royale National Park offer an abundance of natural wonders. Its dense forests, serene lakes, and rugged shoreline create a captivating backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The park is a haven for hikers, who can traverse its network of scenic trails, immersing themselves in the tranquility of the surroundings and catching glimpses of elusive wildlife.

Isle Royale's isolation has also fostered a unique ecosystem. The park is renowned for its thriving wolf and moose populations, engaging in a delicate predator-prey dance that has been studied by scientists for decades. Visitors have the opportunity to witness this intricate balance firsthand, observing the interactions between these iconic species.

Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

8. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, located in Alaska, is a true testament to the awe-inspiring scale and pristine beauty of the natural world. With a staggering size of 13.2 million acres, it holds the distinction of being the largest national park in the United States.

This expansive wilderness encompasses a diverse range of landscapes, from towering mountains to vast glaciers and meandering rivers. The park's glacial system is a sight to behold, with approximately 35% of its area covered by glaciers.

Following the course of any braided river or stream within the park is almost guaranteed to lead visitors to a receding, advancing, or tidewater glacier, offering a mesmerizing display of icy grandeur.

Notably, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is home to some of the tallest mountains in the United States, with peaks that punctuate the horizon and leave visitors in awe of their majestic beauty. On clear days, lucky observers may catch a glimpse of Mount Wrangell, one of the largest active volcanoes in the world, emitting wisps of smoke into the sky.

Beyond its remarkable geological features, the park also harbors a rich diversity of wildlife. Grizzly bears, wolves, moose, and Dall sheep are among the iconic species that roam its vast expanse, creating a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Exploring the park's wilderness provides an opportunity to witness these creatures in their natural habitats and appreciate the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

9. Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

Situated approximately 70 miles off  the coast of Key West, Florida, lies the captivating Dry Tortugas National Park, spanning an expansive area of 100 square miles. This remarkable park comprises seven enchanting small islands, predominantly forming part of the renowned Florida Keys reef system, recognized as the third largest in the world.

Its secluded location presents visitors with a unique opportunity to delve into a realm teeming with vibrant marine life and fascinating shipwrecks, making it a haven for exploration and discovery.

One of the key attractions within Dry Tortugas National Park is Garden Key, where you can embark on an extraordinary journey through time. Here, the imposing Fort Jefferson stands proudly as one of the largest 19th-century forts in the United States.

Dry Tortugas National Park is a sanctuary for marine enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Its extensive coral reef system beckons divers and snorkelers to explore its vibrant underwater world, where an abundance of marine creatures find their home.

From colorful tropical fish to majestic sea turtles, the park's waters are a kaleidoscope of biodiversity. For those captivated by the allure of history, the park's shipwrecks serve as intriguing reminders of the past, providing a glimpse into the maritime heritage of the area.

With its remote location and unspoiled surroundings, the park provides a respite from the bustling world, allowing you to reconnect with nature and find solace in its tranquility.

Dry Tortugas National Park stands as a testament to the captivating beauty and rich heritage of the Florida Keys. Its vast expanse of marine wonders, historical landmarks, and serene landscapes make it an idyllic destination for those seeking adventure, exploration, and a profound appreciation for the natural world. Prepare to be enthralled as you embark on an unforgettable journey through the enchanting realm of Dry Tortugas National Park.

Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

10. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (Alaska) 

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, located in Alaska, is a truly colossal destination that surpasses all expectations. Encompassing a staggering 3.3 million acres, this park and preserve provide an unparalleled opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in serene and undisturbed surroundings. It serves as a haven where individuals can seek solace and tranquility away from the noise and commotion of everyday life.

One of the remarkable aspects of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is the freedom it offers to travelers to tailor their experiences according to their preferences. Whether you're intrigued by the grandeur of fjords, captivated by the allure of hiking through verdant forests, or fascinated by the wonders of marine life, this extraordinary place has something for everyone.

Exploring the park's fjords is a captivating experience that allows you to witness the sheer majesty of nature. Towering, ice-carved cliffs rise dramatically from the crystal-clear waters, creating a breathtaking panorama. As you navigate these awe-inspiring waterways, the sense of serenity and awe will envelop you, leaving an indelible impression.

For those who relish immersing themselves in nature on foot, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve offers an extensive network of hiking trails that wind through lush green forests. These trails lead you through a mesmerizing tapestry of towering trees, vibrant wildflowers, and pristine landscapes, inviting you to discover the park's hidden gems at your own pace.

Moreover, the park's marine environment is a testament to its diverse ecosystem. Embarking on a boat excursion provides an opportunity to witness the wonders that lie beneath the surface. From whales breaching in the distance to playful sea otters and graceful seals, the marine park teems with captivating wildlife. Remember to bring a pair of binoculars to observe these fascinating creatures from a safe and respectful distance.

Least Visited National Parks - Top 10 Updated List 2023

Top 10 Least Visited National Parks

This article presents the top 10 less crowded national parks, offering adventurous travelers a chance to experience serenity, solitude, and a deeper connection with nature.

These hidden gems include Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska, known for its remote wilderness and untamed landscapes, and the National Park of American Samoa, where visitors can explore stunning coral sand beaches and immerse themselves in the local culture. 

Other parks like Kobuk Valley, North Cascades, Lake Clark, Katmai, Isle Royale, Wrangell-St. Elias, Dry Tortugas, and Channel Islands provide awe-inspiring landscapes, abundant wildlife, and unique outdoor activities, creating opportunities for exploration, wildlife encounters, and cultural immersion. These less crowded national parks offer a chance to escape the crowds and discover the beauty of nature in its purest form.

Overall, these less crowded national parks offer a unique opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of popular tourist destinations and immerse oneself in the raw beauty of nature. With fewer crowds, visitors can enjoy a more intimate and authentic experience, connecting with the wilderness and wildlife in a profound way.



Disclaimer: The above information is for general informational purposes only. All information on the Site is provided in good faith, however we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information on the Site.

Least Visited National Parks - FAQs

1. Why should I visit less crowded national parks?

You can escape the crowds and connect with the pristine beauty of untouched landscapes, engage in outdoor activities without congestion, and enjoy a more intimate and authentic experience with wildlife.

2. Are these less crowded national parks safe to visit?

Yes, these national parks are safe to visit. While they may have fewer visitors, they still maintain safety measures and guidelines to ensure the well-being of visitors. 

3. How do I access these remote national parks?

Accessing remote national parks varies depending on the park. Some may require boat or seaplane transportation, while others may have limited road access.

4. Will I miss out on popular attractions by choosing less crowded national parks?

While less crowded national parks may not have the same level of popularity as more well-known parks, they offer unique and often overlooked attractions. You'll have the opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-path trails, witness diverse wildlife, experience stunning landscapes, and engage with local cultures.

5. Can I still enjoy outdoor activities in less crowded national parks?

Absolutely! Less crowded national parks often provide even better opportunities for outdoor activities. With fewer people around, you can hike, backpack, camp, fish, kayak, snorkel, or engage in other activities without the hustle and bustle typically associated with popular destinations.

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