5 Lesser-Known U.S. National Parks You Need to Visit

In 1872, long before they were states, the United States Congress established Yellowstone National Park within the territories of what is now Montana and Wyoming. Over a century later, there are 58 national parks across the country. Many states do not have a single park, while others like Alaska and California boast seven and eight respectively.

The “big five” are those parks that have the highest number of visitors each year: Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Zion, Rocky Mountain, and Yosemite. But did you know that some of the more obscure parks are just as majestic, yet receive only a fraction of the visitors as those?

So what are you waiting for?

Grab a pack, lace up your boots, and hit the trails of one of these five lesser-known national treasures.

U.S National Park Location Visitors in 2017
Biscayne Florida 446,961
Great Basin Nevada 168,028
Capitol Reef Utah 1,150,165
Isle Royale Michigan 28,196
North Cascades Washington 30,326

Biscayne National Park

Florida

Get ready to dive in, as 95 percent of Biscayne is covered by water. Located south of Miami, the 172,000-acre park is largely blanket by crystal clear water that is ideal for diving and snorkeling. There are over 70 shipwrecks within its boundaries, six of which are part of the Maritime Heritage Trail. Oh, and did we mention that Biscayne also encompasses the world’s third largest coral reef?

Great Basin National Park

Nevada

Located in east-central Nevada near the Utah border, this relative newcomer to the national park lineup is home to ancient bristlecone pine groves and the spectacular Lehman Caves. Grab a telescope and take advantage of Great Basin’s remote location as it boasts some of the darkest skies in the lower 48 states.

Capitol Reef National Park

Utah

Capitol Reef is the least visited of Utah’s “mighty five.” Situated in south-central Utah, the park was established around a “wrinkle in the Earth’s crust” called the Waterpocket Fold. This 100 mile-long geologic monocline features sedimentary deposits older than 270 million years. Looking for something a little more recent? Make sure to check out the prehistoric petroglyphs etched in the canyon’s cliffs from its earliest inhabitants.

Isle Royale National Park

Michigan

Nestled in the world’s largest freshwater body (by surface area), Isle Royale is the largest island on Lake Superior. The park’s remoteness also contributes to its popularity among backcountry users. In addition to the main island, there are over 400 satellite islands within the park that create unparalleled adventures for those seeking isolation and solitude. On the downside, Isle Royale can only be reached by boat or seaplane and is one of the few U.S. national parks to close in winter.

North Cascades National Park

Washington

North Cascades is located just three hours north of Seattle near the Canadian border. With over 400 miles of hiking trails and dramatic snow-capped mountains as a backdrop, the park also lays claim to more than 120 alpine lakes and melting glaciers produce waterfalls to plentiful to count.

Once you’re done exploring these, check out the most remote national parks and the best day hikes.

Outdoors

Tepui’s Latest Rooftop Tents and Gear Are Raising the Bar on Outdoor Adventuring

Think you need a hefty camper or a massive stash of gear to enjoy camping? Think again.
Fashion & Style

The Shorrock Brothers’ Lane-Eight AD1 Trainers are the Newest Kicks on the Block

The Lane-Eight AD1 Trainers aren’t built for the super heroes of the world. They’re built for guys like you.
Auto

5 Best Cars You Can Modify for $15,000 or Less

Thanks to a booming aftermarket, you can unleash the potential of these great, affordable cars with the right modifications.
Outdoors

Is this the Fanciest (And Most Expensive) Pedal Boat Ever?

We love a regular old pedal boat as much as the next guy, but this one takes the cake.
Outdoors

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2018: The Best Gear of the Year

After walking dozens of miles around the expo and seeing plenty of stuff to excite us, we narrowed down our long list of favorite stuff to just five "Best of Show" winners.
Outdoors

Danner Teases New Lightweight Hiking Shoe Inspired by the Pacific Crest Trail

It's not a hiking boot and it's not a sneaker. It's a Trail 2650 and does what you want it to.
Outdoors

When You Want to Get Away, But Not That Far Away, Try Urban Camping

While the classical version involves semi-legal squatting in a public area, in recent years, cities have exploited the practice of urban camping for recreation.
Travel

Road Trip on 2 Wheels Instead of 4 Along United States Bicycle Route 66

Cyclists on USBR 66 ride on two-lane rural roads that parallel or exactly follow the original Route 66 motorway.
Travel

Mooching, Whales, and Catching Kings: What It’s Like to Go Salmon Fishing in Alaska

It's more peaceful (and a lot easier) than you can imagine.
Living

The Best Hiking Boots for Men, From Lightweight to Ultra-Plush

Happy feet means a happy hiker. Cheap boots that don’t fit right are a nightmare to hike in.
Outdoors

6 Mystical Old-Growth Forests Around the World

"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness," says John Muir.
Outdoors

The BioLite FirePit is a Portable Fire Pit That Doubles As a Grill

After a successful Kickstarter funding period, the BioLite FirePit is ready for retail!
Outdoors

Patagonia X Danner Introduce the Last Fishing Boot You’ll Ever Buy in First-Ever Collab

The Foot Tractor Wading Boot, long a staple of the Patagonia catalog, sees even more improvement with the craftsmanship of Danner.
Outdoors

The North Face Launches Epic Pop-up Shop High in the Italian Dolomites

The only way to get there? A two-hour hike into the Italian Alps.