The 15 Least-visited National Parks in the US for Beautiful Views and Adventure Without the Crowds

These least-visited national parks in the U.S. have all of the beauty and none of the crowds.

Porcupine Bay in Kenai Fjords National Park
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All of America's national parks have their own treasures to offer visitors, but some are more popular than others.

Each year, the National Park Service (NPS) tracks the total number of tourists in each park, revealing the most and least visited. While the country's least-visited parks can take a bit more planning to reach, they offer incredible experiences to all those who make the trek. You can watch synchronous fireflies, hike among the world's oldest trees, take in views of the northern lights, or enjoy wildflower blooms at these lesser-known national treasures.

The following 15 national parks had the fewest visitors in 2021, according to the NPS. So, if you're looking for adventure and scenery without the crowds, here are the least-visited national parks to travel to next.

1. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Landscape of Gates of the Arctic National Park (Alaska)
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With no roads or trails and a landscape carved by glaciers, Alaska's Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is for the traveler looking to truly get away from it all. With just 7,362 visitors in 2021, it was the least-visited national park of the year.

Park representatives refer to the area as "one of the last truly wild places on Earth." The park's natural habitats can indeed be harsh, and only experienced wilderness travelers are advised to visit. However, there are companies that can organize day trips and overnight campouts to give visitors at every level the chance to enjoy aurora-lit skies and a natural setting unlike any other.

2. National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa

Coral reef in The National Park of American Samoa, Ofu Island.
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Located some 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii sits the National Park of American Samoa. As one of the most remote national parks, it's little surprise that it gets so few visitors per year, and 2021 was no different. According to the NPS, it recorded just 8,495 visits in the calendar year. However, just because it's not popular doesn't mean it's not worthy of a visit.

Those who are fortunate enough to make the trip are rewarded with gorgeous views of the crystalline sea, coral sand beaches, and an abundance of aquatic life — the park is home to a whopping 991 species of fish for guests to spot.

On land, visitors can hike through a vast trail system that offers epic views, as well as learn more about the Samoan culture through its visitors center and unique homestay program.

3. Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska

Caribou Antlers, Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska, Usa, Tundra
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Half a million caribou migrate through Kobuk Valley National Park, tracking across the sculpted dunes. The park is home to the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, the largest active sand dunes in the Arctic, which formed over thousands of years as glaciers gradually ground the rocks beneath them. The ice age relics are also often dotted with the tracks of bears, wolves, foxes, and moose that roam the park. The Kobuk River weaves through the park, offering visitors a unique vantage point to view the flora and fauna by boat.

4. North Cascades National Park, Washington

Scenic view of lake and mountains against sky in North Cascades National Park, Washington
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Three hours from Seattle, North Cascades National Park offers the most glacier views in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Though the North Cascades National Park Service Complex is one of the world's snowiest places, it still provides visitors with a range of activities year-round, from river rafting trips to horseback riding, backpacking, climbing, and hiking hundreds of miles of trails. The alpine landscape hosts short and scenic strolls for beginner hikers, as well as lengthier trails that pass alongside glaciers for the more advanced.

5. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska

A River At Sunset In Lake Clark National Park And Preserve, Alaska, Usa
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Lake Clark National Park and Preserve may be the nation's fifth least-visited national park, but avid travelers who have seen all of America's national parks cite it as one of the best.

The park offers an iconic Alaskan experience, where visitors can get magnificent views of turquoise lakes, brown bears, soaring mountains, and glaciers. Take all of it in while kayaking, hiking, or powerboating along the lakes and rivers.

6. Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Bears at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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Designated as a national park and preserve in 1980, Katmai National Park and Preserve on Alaska's northern peninsula is home to dramatic landscapes and a rich array of wildlife. The national park is almost exclusively accessed by plane or boat, and various operators offer air taxi service and flightseeing tours.

Flightseeing tours are one of the "more dramatic" ways to see the national park and preserve, according to park representatives, as the aerial view reveals the vast size and diversity of the area and its combination of tundra, freshwater lakes, and volcanoes. Those flying over can also take in views of the bears and moose that live here. There are more than 2,000 brown bears in Katmai, and the animals are so beloved here that there's an annual Fat Bear Week to determine the fattest in the park.

7. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Lake Superior near Windigo at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
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Isle Royale National Park is located on an isolated island that sits in the middle of Lake Superior. The national park is only accessible by boat or seaplane, and transportation services are available from nearby locations. Once at the park, travelers will find forests, rugged shorelines, backcountry trails, and some 400 satellite islands to explore by boat. Thanks to the cold waters of Lake Superior, the national park is also a prime location for scuba diving, as sunken shipwrecks have remained intact.

8. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska

View of autumn Wrangell st. elias national park, Alaska, USA
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At 13.2 million acres, Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the nation's biggest, but it only saw 50,189 visits in 2021.

The park is roughly the same size as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and all of Switzerland combined. It's home to the nation's largest glacial system (close to 35% of the park is covered in glaciers), which is why NPS representatives say visitors following any braided river or stream to its source are sure to find a receding, advancing, or a tidewater glacier to admire. The park also has some of the country's tallest mountains, and visitors can even see Mount Wrangell (one of the world's largest active volcanoes) smoking on clear days.

9. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Fort Jefferson and beach at sunset, Garden Key, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, United States of America, North America
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Dry Tortugas National Park is 100 square miles of natural and historic gems located about 70 miles out from Key West, Florida. Most of the national park, which includes seven small islands, is part of the Florida Keys reef system — the third largest in the world — and its remote location offers visitors a rich abundance of marine life and shipwrecks to explore. Head to Garden Key to explore Fort Jefferson, one of the nation's largest 19th-century forts, where you can camp and take in the night sky views that the park is known for.

10. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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To say Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a behemoth would be an understatement. The park and preserve cover a total of 3.3 million acres, making it a place where anyone can go to find complete peace and quiet. It's also a place where travelers can choose their own adventure, from exploring fjords to hiking through lush green forests to heading out on a boat to see the marine park. Of course, animals abound here, so make sure to pack some binoculars to spot them all from a safe distance.

11. Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Mountain lake, Great Basin National Park, Nevada
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Great Basin National Park offers visitors some of the country's best stargazing.

Thanks to drastic elevation changes (from 5,000 to 13,000 feet), the park is immensely diverse in its flora and fauna. Here, you'll find everything from deserts and playas to mountains, fossils, springs, caves, and glaciers. The park is home to 73 different mammal species, more than 200 bird species, 11 species of conifer trees, and more than 800 plant species (like alpine wildflowers that cover the area in the spring). In the fall, pine nuts adorn the park, and come winter, mule deer make their seasonal migration through the grounds. Visitors will also find the oldest trees in the world and ancient caves at Great Basin.

12. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

boarded walkway heading off to the wilderness area with the Weston Lake Loop Trail in Congaree National Park
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South Carolina's Congaree National Park is home to both the largest expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the southeast and some of eastern America's tallest trees. Some of the trees reach as high as 170 feet, and visitors can admire them on more than 25 miles of hiking trails — or even by canoe or kayak.

The park is also one of the few places in the world where travelers can witness two magnificent natural displays. These include synchronous fireflies, which typically appear between mid-May and mid-June, and a fascinating view that happens when the park experiences flooding. Thanks to elevated pathways that line the park, those who visit when heavy rainfalls occur can see close to 80% of the park completely submerged underwater.

13. Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Mount Hunter in the Alaska Range during autumn.
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Denali is yet another underrated and under-visited national park in Alaska. Made up of a whopping six million acres, guests of the park get to see some truly stunning and varied terrain, including its namesake peak, Denali, which tops out at 20,310 feet, making it the tallest peak in North America. Of course, the wildlife is abundant here, too, and includes 39 species of mammals, as well as 169 different bird species for guests to try and spot during their adventures.

14. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

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The 218,055 acres of Voyageurs National Park are known for a unique ecosystem of hardwood forests, wetlands, and arctic watershed. Because of its transitional landscape, there's a variety of wildlife, from moose and black bears to northern leopard frogs and blue-spotted salamanders.

There are also over 400 wildflower species in the park, but for the most colorful views, you'll want to look up. A National Dark Sky Park, Voyageurs' night sky offers glimpses of the Milky Way, meteors, and, on occasion, the northern lights.

To experience all of Voyageurs' natural wonder, drive to the Northern Minnesota parks' visitor centers before traversing the park by private boat or guided water taxi.

15. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Texas, Guadalupe Mountain National Park, El Capitan Prominence
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Guadalupe Mountains National Park combines mountain and canyon scenery with desert terrain and impressive dunes. The national park is home to more than 80 miles of hiking trails that weave through the desert, canyons, and even to the "Top of Texas" at Guadalupe Peak, where those who make the trek can see mesmerizing views from every angle.

Four of the state's highest peaks are located within the park, which also offers spectacular foliage in the fall. Hit the McKittrick Canyon Trail in the northern portion to see just how magnificent the park's fall colors can be.

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