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|
|Location||American Samoa, United States|
Nearest city: Pago Pago
|Animals to Spot||Skins, bats, various species of amphibians and reptiles|
|Attraction to See||Tutuila Unit, tropical rainforests, coral reefs|
|Visitors per year||Around 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
|North Cascades National Park|
|Location||Whatcom, Chelan, and Skagit counties, Washington|
Nearest city: Sedro-Woolley, Washington
|Animals to spot||Gray wolf, mountain goat, black bear|
|Attraction to see||Copper Ridge Trail, the Skagit River|
|Visitors per year||Around 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|
Nearest city: Copper Center, Alaska
|Size||13 Million Acres|
|Animals to spot||Steller sea-lion|
|Attractions to see||Kennecott Copper Mine, Kendesnii campground|
|Visitors per year||Around 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|
|Location||Saint Louis & Koochiching counties, Minnesota|
Nearest city: International Falls
|Animals to spot||Gray wolf, bald eagle|
|Attraction to see||Over 30 lakes and more than 300 islands|
|Visitors per year||More 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|
|Location||White Pine County, Nevada|
Nearest city: Ely, Baker, Border
|Animals to spot||Pygmy rabbits, ground squirrels, hawks, sparrows, leopard frog|
|Attraction to see||Great Basin Bristlecone Pines|
|Visitors per year||Around 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|
|Location||Hudspeth County and Culberson County, Texas|
|Animals to spot||Black Bear|
|Attractions to see||Salt Basin Dunes, Guadalupe Peak Trail, McKittrick Canyon, Frijole Ranch|
|Visitors per year||Around 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.
7. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
|Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park|
|Location||Montrose County, Colorado|
Nearest city: Montrose
|Animals to spot||Coyote, magpie|
|Attraction to see||Scenic drive along US Highway 50 and Colorado Highway 92|
|Visitors per year||Around 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|
|Location||Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska|
|Animals to spot||Timber wolf, sea lion, bald eagle|
|Attraction to see||Glaciers|
|Visitors per year||Around 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:
- Timber wolf;
- Brown bear;
- Mountain goat;
- Sea lion;
- Minke whales;
- Pacific white-sided dolphin;
- Bald eagle;
- Black-billed magpie.
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!
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