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Top 5: Little-Known National Parks to Avoid the Crowds

by Holly Riddle

Aug 15, 2019

North Cascades, Washinton State © Jay Beiler | Dreamstime

North America

Go to national parks like Yellowstone and you’ll find long lines, crowded sidewalks and lots of tourists marring the otherwise pristine landscape. If you want to enjoy nature while avoiding the crowds, here are five to add to your upcoming travels.


Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park is the newest national park in the park system and it’s just a short train ride from Chicago. Situated in northwest Indiana, it’s on Lake Michigan and offers views of Chicago on clear days, but the lakeside is hardly what makes this park unique. As you might guess from the name, this park is known for its huge sand dunes, which you can see from the beach or on hiking trails. After your shoes are filled with sand from your adventures, hike some of the other trails that take you through savannas, marshes and other ecosystems.


Dry Tortugas National Park

Quite further south, Dry Tortugas National Park is perfect for a Caribbean getaway, even if it’s not exactly a top-visited Caribbean destination. This park is primarily water, but you can travel in to the isolated island that boasts a 1800s fort. Snorkeling, island hopping and other fun awaits, just a short trip away from Key West.


Lake Clark National Park and Reserve

One of the lesser-known national parks in Alaska, Lake Clark National Park and Reserve is a convenient trip away from Anchorage, with a vast, dramatic landscape and plenty of wildlife.


North Cascades National Park

If you can’t make it to Lake Clark National Park and Reserve, try to get over to North Cascades National Park, a little bit more accessible thanks to its location near Seattle. You’ll still enjoy dramatic views, along with a lot of classic national park activities like hiking and camping.


Isle Royale National Park

While you might think that Isle Royale National Park’s location in Lake Superior (yes, in) makes it more accessible than some of the other parks on this list, that’s not the case. Because it’s an isolated island, travelers have to take a ferry, plane or boat to reach it. However, the slightly difficult journey is worth it, as the park offers a bounty of fun once you arrive.


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