Discover the Least Crowded National Parks in Summer

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: July 8, 2022
© iStock.com/Allen Allnoch
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National parks are undoubtedly top destinations during the summer, as they provide many shaded areas where people can take a break from the high temperatures in the city. Yellowstone National Park, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park are some of the most beautiful and top-rated national parks in the United States. However, their popularity makes them pretty crowded during the summer. Schools close, people start planning their vacation, and, most of the time, one or more of these parks is on their to-visit list. 

If you’re looking for a quiet but just as beautiful and charming park where you can reconnect with nature, no worries, there are plenty! Even though these parks aren’t as popular among tourists as other top-ranked parks, we assure you they’re worth the visit!

1. National Park of American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa

©Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

National Park of American Samoa
LocationAmerican Samoa, United States
Nearest city: Pago Pago
Size8,256.67 acres
Animals to SpotSkins, bats, various species of amphibians and reptiles
Attraction to SeeTutuila Unit, tropical rainforests, coral reefs
Visitors per yearAround 20,000

If you’re looking for a peaceful and exotic destination for your trip, this is it! The National Park of American Samoa is distributed across Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū islands. It preserves and protects tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Besides this, it has the purpose of preserving the Samoan culture. 

People usually visit it for the remote beach, its rich biodiversity and culture, and the variety of recreational facilities available, among which hiking and snorkeling are the most popular. The Tutuila unit, located on the island’s north end, is the only entry point accessible by car, so it attracts most tourists. 

2. North Cascades National Park

Best National Parks to Visit in July - North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park features multiple hiking trails, including the Cascade Trail Pass, Copper Ridge, Diablo Lake, and Fourth of July Pass.

©Andrew Bertino/Shutterstock.com

North Cascades National Park
LocationWhatcom, Chelan, and Skagit counties, Washington
Nearest city: Sedro-Woolley, Washington
Size504,654 acres
Animals to spotGray wolf, mountain goat, black bear
Attraction to seeCopper Ridge Trail, the Skagit River
Visitors per yearAround 30,000

Visitors say it’s best to visit North Cascades National Park during July or August when the temperature varies between 30℉ and 54℉. The Skagit River divides the park into two sections. There are two national recreation areas, several wilderness areas, and national forests. 

You’ll be able to hike, camp, or fish in the park. There are multiple hiking trails, including the Cascade Trail Pass, Copper Ridge, Diablo Lake, and Fourth of July Pass. These will provide spectacular natural views of subalpine meadows and other natural gems. A study shows that North Cascades National Park consists of eight forest types: ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, subalpine fir, whitebark pine-subalpine larch, mountain hemlock, Pacific silver fir, western hemlock, and hardwood forest.

If you’re lucky enough, you might spot some mountain goats, black bears, elk, or gray wolves.

3. Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve is a 13-million-acre natural area located in south-central Alaska.

©BlueBarronPhoto/Shutterstock.com

Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve
LocationAlaska
Nearest city: Copper Center, Alaska
Size13 Million Acres
Animals to spotSteller sea-lion
Attractions to seeKennecott Copper Mine, Kendesnii campground
Visitors per yearAround 80,000

Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve is a 13-million-acre natural area located in south-central Alaska. It includes parts of the Saint Elias Mountains with some of the highest peaks in the United States, making this park a perfect destination for mountain climbers!

The McCarthy Road to Kennecott Copper Mine and the Kuskulana River Canyon and Bridge are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Wrangell-St.Elias National Park and Preserve. 

If you want to stay overnight, you should check out the Kendesnii campground. It is the only campground in the park and is located on Nabesna Road. If you want to see the park from above, you can opt for air taxis that feature sightseeing services and even visitor transportation. 

Visitors can spot numerous wild animals, including:

4. Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park hosts over 30 lakes and more than 300 islands.

©BlueBarronPhoto/Shutterstock.com

Voyageurs National Park
LocationSaint Louis & Koochiching counties, Minnesota
Nearest city: International Falls
Size218,200 acres
Animals to spotGray wolf, bald eagle
Attraction to seeOver 30 lakes and more than 300 islands
Visitors per yearMore than 230,000 

Voyageurs National Park is located near International Falls City. Its name comes from the French-Canadian fur traders called, voyageurs. Water enthusiasts will definitely want to return to Voyageurs National Park as it hosts over 30 lakes and more than 300 islands! There are numerous recreational facilities on-site, such as canoeing, boating, kayaking, and fishing. Popular fish species among anglers include walleye and smallmouth bass.

Moreover, you’ll be able to see some of the most iconic North Woods animals:

There are 282 camping sites for which you’ll need permits. These can be obtained at the visitor centers and boat ramps located in the park. 

5. Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park hosts over 800 species of plants.

©iStock.com/Allen Allnoch

Great Basin National Park
LocationWhite Pine County, Nevada
Nearest city: Ely, Baker, Border
Size77,180 acres
Animals to spotPygmy rabbits, ground squirrels, hawks, sparrows, leopard frog
Attraction to seeGreat Basin Bristlecone Pines
Visitors per yearAround 130,000 

Great Basin National Park is located in White Pine County. Its name comes from the Great Basin region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. Its ancient bristlecone pines and the Lehman Caves make the park extremely popular among tourists and nature lovers. 

The park features multiple campsites and 12 trails ranging from 0.3 to 13.1 miles. Near the park, visitors can find the Highland Ridge Wilderness, a real treasure for wildlife enthusiasts! The visitor center is located in the city of Baker, on Nevada State Route 487. 

Great Basin National Park hosts over 800 species of plants, including the 5,000-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine. Sixty-one species of mammals, 238 species of birds, 18 species of reptiles, two species of amphibians, and eight species of fish inhabit the area.

6. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located east of El Paso, Texas.

©ShuPhoto/Shutterstock.com

Guadalupe Mountains National Park
LocationHudspeth County and Culberson County, Texas
Size76,293 acres
Animals to spotBlack Bear
Attractions to seeSalt Basin Dunes, Guadalupe Peak Trail, McKittrick Canyon, Frijole Ranch
Visitors per yearAround 175,000

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located east of El Paso, Texas, in the Guadalupe Mountains. The highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, is located in this park. Visitors often visit it for the restored Frijole Ranch, which features a museum of local history, and the Guadalupe Peak Trail. The trail takes hikers through conifer and pinyon pine forests and ends on the summit of Guadalupe Peak. From there, visitors can see the Chihuahuan Desert and El Capitan. 

Another trail is called the McKittrick Canyon, leading to a 90-year-old stone cabin that served as a holiday home for Wallace Pratt. Other trails you can choose from are the Devil’s Hall Trail and the Smith Spring Trail. 

The area is abundant in wildlife, hosting numerous mammals and birds, including coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, owls, sparrows, and hummingbirds

7. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park features one of the darkest skies in Colorado.

©SL-Photography/Shutterstock.com

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
LocationMontrose County, Colorado
Nearest city: Montrose
Size30,750 acres
Animals to spotCoyote, magpie
Attraction to seeScenic drive along US Highway 50 and Colorado Highway 92
Visitors per yearAround 300,000

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park could be the perfect summer destination for you and your companions! There are camping spots, trails, scenic drives, deep gorges, and a lot of wildlife. All of these things will help you make beautiful memories.

This national park contains the deepest section of the canyon and features one of the darkest skies in Colorado! We recommend staying overnight. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to see the sky full of thousands of stars! You can camp in the east area of the park, where you’ll find both tent and RV campsites. The region features hiking, fishing, and boating facilities. 

The main tourist attraction in the area is the scenic drive along US Highway 50 and Colorado Highway 92.

8. Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park covers 669,984 acres of land.

©Tomasz Wozniak/Shutterstock.com

Kenai Fjords National Park
LocationKenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska
Size669,984 acres
Animals to spotTimber wolf, sea lion, bald eagle
Attraction to seeGlaciers
Visitors per yearAround 350,000

This summer, Kenai Fjords National Park should definitely make it to the top of the places to visit list! It provides some of the most spectacular views of glaciers and massive ice bags! Wildlife enthusiasts will have a great time trying to spot the numerous mammals, birds, and marine species that inhabit the area. Some of them are:

Exploring Kenai Fjords is also possible through an ocean cruise that makes it easier to see various sea animals. Flight tours are also available – you’ll be able to see the park’s stunning beauty from above!


The Featured Image

Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park is the only park with the most South Snake mountains and unique stalactites
© iStock.com/Allen Allnoch

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on real estate, nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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