Discover Lesser Known National Parks
Updated: October 26, 2023
AAA Travel Editors
Table of Contents
Travel off the beaten path to glimpse breathtaking American beauty at these lesser-known national parks.
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is near Miami, Florida, but is a completely different experience than the area’s bustling urban scene. The park protects one of the most extensive coral reef tracts in the world. In addition, the park features the longest stretch of mangrove forest on the east coast.
Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is located southeast of Columbia, South Carolina, and features one of the oldest and tallest forests east of the Mississippi River. Visitors can experience the natural wonders of the park on over 25 miles of hiking trails and nearly 3 miles of boardwalks. The park also has a marked canoe trail along Cedar Creek.
Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park can be found on a rugged, isolated island in Lake Superior. The island is located between Copper Harbor, Michigan, and Thunder Bay, Ontario. This park is a haven for backpackers, hikers, kayakers and canoeists.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park showcases the rugged landscape of North Dakota. The park is broken into three units, including the North Unit, South Unit and Elkhorn Ranch Unit. Visitors frequent this park for its ample wildlife viewing, including American bison, mountain lions and more.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is full of unique cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges spanning south-central Utah. In the heart of Red Rock Country, the park is named for white rock domes that resemble the U.S. Capitol and rocky ridges that look like marine reefs.
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National Park is located in Eastern Nevada near the Utah border in the heart of White Pine County. The park’s most notable features include Lexington Arch, the Lehman Orchard and Aqueduct, Rhodes Cabin, Stella and Teresa Lakes, and Wheeler Peak Glacier.
North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park can be found in northwestern Washington state and features rugged mountain peaks of the North Cascade range. The park is popular with backpackers and mountain climbers. One of the most popular destinations of the park is Cascade Pass, a former Native American travel pass.
Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park is located in the waters of southern California, off the coast of Oxnard. Five remarkable islands showcase their rich, coastal environment. Autumn is an excellent time to travel to the park for diving, with sunny days and minimal winds.
Lake Clark National Park
Lake Clark National Park features steaming volcanoes and abundant wildlife. Located in south-central Alaska, visitors can watch the salmon run, watch bears forage through the mountains, and explore turquoise lakes that dot the landscape.
Florida Keys News Bureau/Andy Newman
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is remotely located about 70 miles west of Key West. The 100-mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is home to Fort Jefferson, coral reefs and abundant marine life.
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AAA Travel Editors
AAA Travel Editors are AAA Travel Experts.