7 Lesser Known National Parks And Why They’re Worth A Trip

By Todd Neikirk
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7 Lesser Known National Parks And Why They’re Worth A Trip

Todd Neikirk
 
(Photo By Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
(Photo By Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
 
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National Parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon are known to pretty much everyone. But there are plenty more parks that fall under that radar. In fact, there are a total of 423 sites run by the National Parks System. Here are some fun parks that you may not have heard of and why you should consider visiting them for your next vacation or weekend outing if you live close enough to make the trip.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

The Gunnison River runs through the stunning Black Canyon near Montrose, Colorado
(Photo By Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Of course, the best-known canyon in the United States is the Grand Canyon in Arizona. But Gunnison National Park features another stunning canyon as well. Visitors to the park can hike, fish, and take scenic drives.

There is nothing quite like the Black Canyon. Travel writer Duane Vandenbusche wrote of the gorge, “Several canyons of the American West are longer and some are deeper, but none combines the depth, sheerness, narrowness, darkness, and dread of the Black Canyon.”

Biscayne National Park, Florida

An underwater view of Biscayne National Park
An underwater view of Biscayne National Park (Image via NPS.gov/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

Biscayne National Park, located south of Miami, is unique in the fact that 95% of it is made up of water. Visitors actually have to take a boat to get to their destination.

The park serves as a marine sanctuary and as such, it is a paradise for people who love water activities. There is incredibly snorkeling around the coral reefs and plenty of boating. Tourists also like to fish at the park or try their hand at catching lobsters.

 Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Kayakers take in the sights at Congaree National Park
Kayakers take in the sights at Congaree National Park (Image via jtMartin57/Wikimedia Commons)

Congaree National Park is close to the South Carolina capital city of Columbia. The park is noted for its collection of bottomland hardwood trees and is dedicated to protecting them. Most of the bottomland hardwood trees in the states have already been logged.

The park features some of the tallest trees in the United States. Congaree also has a river running through the middle of the park. This feature gives visitors the opportunity to take in incredible views while riding in a kayak or canoe.

Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska

Hikers make their way though the Gates of the Arctic National Park
Hikers make their way though the Gates of the Arctic National Park (Image via Paxson Woelber/Wikimedia Commons)

This is, by far, the most difficult park to get to in the United States. The 8.4 million-acre park features no roads or trails. In order to get there, people have to either fly or hike, then cross a river. For these reasons, including its location, it is the least visited national park.

The park is very much not for everyone. The National Park Service advises that the Gates of the Arctic should only be visited by people who have advanced survival skills.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Visitors love to go canyoneering at Capitol Reef National Park
Visitors love to go canyoneering at Capitol Reef National Park (Image via Wolfgang Staudt /Wikimedia Commons)

Utah has a number of incredible state parks. As a result, Capitol Reef National Park near Torrey, Utah can fall a bit under the radar. The area was initially a national monument but became a national park in 1971.

Capitol Reef is most well-known for its amazing sandstone cliffs and canyons. Hikers and climbers love the activities at the Utah park. The park is also renowned for canyoneering and offers fans of the sport one of the best places in the states to participate.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park features wild animals such as bison
Theodore Roosevelt National Park features wild animals such as bison (Image via Acroterion/Wikimedia Commons)

Of all the Presidents in American history, Teddy Roosevelt was the one most concerned with conservation. And North Dakota became one of his happy places where he could be one with nature. The park near Medora, North Dakota bears his name.

One of the coolest aspects of the area is the amazing animals that can be seen there. The park features elk, bison, and wild horses. Those looking to visit, though, need to plan in advance as the park is not necessarily easy to get to.

Pinnacles National Park, California

Pinnacles National Park features stunning rock formations created by an extinct volcano
Pinnacles National Park features stunning rock formations created by an extinct volcano (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Pinnacles National Park, close to Soledad, California, is one of the newest entries on this list. While it has existed as a national monument since 1908, it has only been designated as a national park since 2013.

The thing that makes Pinnacles unique is that the site features an extinct volcano. The volcano called the Neenach, has eroded away, creating stunning spires, gorges, rock fractures, and caves. Campers love exploring the unusual aspects of the area.

 
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