If you are looking for a new place to take family camping or a remote, rugged place to get away from it all, these underrated U.S. National Parks offer something for everyone.
The National Park Service turned 99 years old on Tuesday. To celebrate, they waived the entrance fees to all 408 of is national parks.
If you missed out on the opportunity to visit on Tuesday, don’t worry. With cooler weather imminently on the horizon, now is the perfect time to start planning your fall outdoor adventures if you haven’t already.
Need ideas? Check out these 10 little-known national parks.
1. Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Alaska
On my personal bucket list, Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve is America’s largest national park. However, it’s not the most visited park in Alaska.
Spanning 13.2 million acres from the ocean to one of the tallest peaks in North America, Mount St. Elias, this park is a rugged adventurer’s paradise. Visitors can enjoy river rafting, sea kayaking and guided glacier hikes.
2. Channel Islands National Park, California
Just a short boat or plane ride from the California mainland, Channel Islands National Park is home to thousands of unique animal and plant species. It’s also home to the most well-preserved archeological sites on the Pacific coast.
Excluding the tourist destination, Santa Catalina, and the San Nicolas and San Clemente, which are operated by the U.S. Navy, there are five islands to explore. Each island has its own unique features.
Santa Cruz is perfect for hiking and camping, while San Miguel is home to thousands of seals and sea lions. Keep in mind, there is no transportation once you arrive on the islands. Bicycles are prohibited, so you must travel by foot, private boat or kayak.
3. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Voyaguers National Park is celebrating a birthday of its own this year. To commemorate the park’s 40th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Voyageurs National Park Association, visits can enjoy a variety of events throughout the year including a guided ghost tour in September.
If you can’t visit until winter, don’t worry. Voyageurs is an ideal place for snowshoeing. You can bring your own or borrow a pair from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center for free.
4. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Situated on another isolated, rugged island, Isle Royale National Park is surrounded by Lake Superior. From backpacking to kayaking to scuba diving, Isle Royale offers an adventure for everyone.
For anglers, the waters surrounding the park are home to over 40 species of fish including lake trout, brook trout, northern pike, yellow perch and walleye.
5. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
This 100-square-mile park is mostly comprised of open water with just seven small islands. Given its remote location, the only way to access Dry Tortugas is to bring your own boat, charter a boat or seaplane or hop on the ferry.
Once you arrive, you’ll be able to explore the southwest tip of South Florida’s coral reef track, the third-largest barrier reef system outside of Australia and Belize.
6. Acadia National Park, Maine
Maine’s Acadia National Park is a great place for the entire family. With 125 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous and 45 miles of winding carriage roads for walking or biking.
Of the national parks, Acadia has one of the most diverse offering of activities. Visitors can enjoy bird watching, boating, climbing, fishing and horseback riding without ever having to leave the park.
7. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, Hawaii
While the Hawaiian Islands are home to countless tourist attractions, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park combines culture, history and the outdoors.
Here you can see the largest fishpond wall in Hawaii measuring at 800 feet long by 40 feet wide. While you walk along the shores of Honokohau Beach, be on the lookout for the Hawaiian green sea turtle. In the winter, you may spot a humpback whale in the park’s waters.
8. Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands
When you think of the Virgin Islands, visiting a national park probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
With lush green forests, turquoise bays and white sand beaches, Virgin Islands National Park is a must see on your next jaunt to St. Johns.
The park is also home to the Coral Reef National Monument which includes more than three miles of federal submerged lands and one of the most diverse systems of coral reefs.
9. North Cascades National Park, Washington
You wouldn’t suspect it, but more than 300 glaciers can be found just a few hours outside Seattle at North Cascades National Park.
Along with glaciers come some of the most picturesque waterfalls in North America including Ladder Creek Falls and Gorge Creek Falls.
10. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
Wind Cave National Park is wildlife lover’s dream. One of the oldest national parks, Wind Cave’s grasslands are home to roaming bison, elk and other wildlife.
Beneath the surface, you’ll discover one of the longest and most complex caves in the world.
National parks across the country can be visited year-round. Take advantage of the natural beauty of our country and start planning a trip to one of these lesser-known parks.