Guest post by Nicole Villegas
Here’s a fun fact for you travel buffs: there are just 61 designated areas known as official “National Parks” in the United States. Only those given the formal title by the National Park system can include the official capitalization.
Of those 61, you likely are familiar with Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. With each respectively receiving over four million and six million visitors in 2018 alone, it’s safe to say they can’t exactly be considered “hidden gems” by tourists.
Reservations.com rounded up a list of 20 of the Least Visited National Parks in the U.S. to bring attention to those lesser known parks. We were excited to see four of them feature secluded beaches, gorgeous views and plenty of fun activities! Read on to learn about each one, you may just discover your next road trip or travel destination.
Channel Islands National Park, California
Visits in 2018: 366,250
California is known as a massive state, yet this National Park seems to fly under the radar. The isolated islands that make up its geography are home to many native species, while also preserving a variety of natural resources.
Visitors can craft their own special itinerary with everything from boating and scuba diving to hiking and camping available. Dolphins, seals, whales and elephant seals are just some of the species that make up the marine life native to Channel Islands National Park. This destination is a must-see paradise for any adventurer!
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Visits in 2018: 56,810
For those of you who built forts in their bedroom whenever they could as a kid, Dry Tortugas National Park is absolutely for you. Featuring a 19th-century hexagonal fort called Fort Jefferson, this landscape is something out of a child’s dreams. You can explore Fort Jefferson, complete with its very own saltwater moat, and then enjoy the beautiful crystal-clear waters Key West is famous for.
The first thing you need to know about this park is the epic Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century hexagonal fort that looks as if a 12-year old boy designed it, complete with a saltwater moat and defensible against pirates.
Aside from five species of turtles (as the park’s name suggests), visitors can admire nurse sharks, crocodiles, schools of fish and many types of native birds.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Visits in 2018: 25,798
Beaches don’t always need to be saved for a hot summer day. You’ll have to hop on a boat or seaplane to get to Isle Royale National Park, but the trip is worth it. Visitors can explore over 400 islands, enjoying beautiful beaches and waters that are perfect for fishing.
For those scuba diving aficionados, this national park features 10 major shipwrecks that attract incredible aquatic life. This landscape lends itself to a multi-island getaway!
Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands
Visits in 2018: 112,287
If you’re willing to hop on a flight to the Caribbean but stay within U.S. Borders, we have the perfect match for you. The Virgin Islands National Park is a true beach sanctuary, featuring miles of silky sand and fantastic scenic hikes.
Perfect for those who love to stay active while traveling, you’ll get to pack snorkel and hiking gear to make the most of this unique national park.
Cover photo by start livin, Unsplash