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5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska

5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska

If you love experiencing nature at its finest but prefer not to battle with hordes of tourists or traffic congestion, you might consider escaping the masses and visiting one of our less traveled national parks. The National Park System includes 397 areas that cover over 84 million acres in every state, making it possible to experience peace and tranquility on vacation rather than feel packed in a sardine can.

While the state of Alaska contains the most remote and isolated parks in the nation, these parks are an obvious choice as well as all being breathtaking places to visit. Even the more popular parks in Alaska can be visited easily without rubbing elbows with other travelers, so for the sake of this list, they won't be included.

As a frequent traveler who has experienced many of our nation's spectacular parks, here are my top five choices for those who want to experience a true getaway destination outside of Alaska.

5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska

North Cascades National Park, Washington

While many visitors head to Glacier National Park in Montana or all the way to Alaska to view glaciers, few people realize that North Cascades National Park is home to the most glaciers outside of Alaska with over 300. Although this park is popular among backpackers and hikers, according to National Parks Traveler, in 2009 only 26,972 recreational visitors came to North Cascades. Michigan's Isle Royale National Park is the only one in the nation that gets fewer visitors.

In addition to glaciers, travelers can experience towering waterfalls among the rugged wilderness and one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. View elusive mammals like the fisher, wolverine, and gray wolf as well as bears, moose, cougars, and a large number of Columbia black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, and pikas. Bald eagles and osprey are also frequently spotted perched among the rich forests and rocky slopes here.

5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

This national park is one of the more accessible yet wildest parks in the country. Just 50 miles from a major interstate, here you'll find many of the thrills of Yellowstone without the traffic jams. Even on a summer day, visitors can often find themselves alone among pristine blue alpine lakes and brilliant wildflowers. Here, you can experience active hydrothermal areas with boiling mudpots and fumaroles and a night so dark that there are often unparalleled views of celestial wonders.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

If you want spectacularly colored canyons without the extreme heat or crowds, consider heading to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in southwest Colorado. This park is home to the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. You'll experience breathtaking views and constantly changing landscapes, from the painted wall to Sunset Point and Chasm View, as well as billions of years of geology.

5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska5 Best Least Traveled National Parks Outside Alaska

Channel Islands, California

It's surprising that Channel Islands National Park receives fewer than 250,000 visitors a year, as this is home to one of the most unique environments in the U.S. The park consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of southern California. Each island offers an amazing experience, from Santa Barbara Island's numerous sea lion population and wonderful bird-watching to Santa Cruz Island's sea caves. Visitors to this park can even experience some of the best diving and snorkeling found in the world.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Other than the immediately surrounding areas of Reno and Las Vegas, much of the state of Nevada is still rather rugged and remote, and eastern Nevada is no exception. It is the least crowded national park that can be reached by car in the U.S. and definitely the wildest of the wild, sure to satisfy the most adventurous of travelers.

Great Basin lies under the shadow of 13,000-foot Wheeler Peak and offers a chance to explore a diverse environment from the solitude of the desert to the incredibly beautiful Lehman Caves. This stunning marble cave is ornately decorated with over 300 rare shield formations as well as stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, and more.

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