National Parks offer the chance to commune with some of this country’s most amazing natural phenomena. The only catch? A handful of parks tend to draw all the attention and become overrun with tourists at peak times of year.
The following five parks offer all the majesty of their better-known counterparts, but you can enjoy them with more peace and quiet!
1. Biscayne National Park
In Florida, Everglades tends to be visitors’ national park of choice. But Biscayne is home to the largest coral reef on the continent, and has an abundance of amazing wildlife, including manatees, crocodiles, sea turtles, and birds. Biscayne offers guided paddle boarding and snorkelling tours, so you can experience the park’s emerald islands and vibrant marine life up close.
2. Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, a remote park found alongside the Rio Grande River in Texas, is made up of plunging canyons, expansive desert vistas, and a dynamic river. It’s a truly wild place. Spend the day kayaking or climbing Chisos Mountain. At night, the park is the perfect place for stargazing, as it offers some of the darkest skies in the country.
3. Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park is the least-visited national park in California. That’s understandable, since California is home to the popular Yosemite and Joshua Tree. But Lassen Volcanic National Park has many things in common with Yosemite, including hot springs and freezing blue lakes. Lassen Peak is also an active volcano that has the potential to erupt at any time!
4. Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona gets its name from the boulder-sized petrified logs found across the desert landscape. The petrified wood is composed almost entirely of solid quartz and they are a wonder to see. You’ll find an abundance of hiking and walking trails here. Make sure to check out the Museum Demonstration Lab, where you can watch palaeontologists prepare some of the unique fossils found in the park.
5. Great Basin National Park
It’s easy to fill your days and nights at Nevada’s Great Basin National Park. You can take a ranger-guided tour of the Lehman Caves, an over two-mile-long network of stunning limestone formations and unique cave life. At night, the park offers unparalleled conditions for stargazing. The air is so clear here that you can spot the Milky Way! Just stay at the Wheeler Peak campground if you wish to do so.