Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon… we’ve all heard of these outdoor wonderlands that attract millions of visitors every single year. But they are just a few of the 62 diverse national parks in America. If you venture beyond the most popular sites, you’re bound to find eye-popping landscapes of rugged mountain peaks, tropical rainforests, and mysterious islands—all of which you’ll have completely to yourself. Whether you’re looking for a solo outdoor adventure to the tune of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild or simply want a stunning view without any photobombing tourists, consider one of these uncrowded national parks.
Gates of the Arctic; Kobuk Valley; Lake Clarke, Alaska
When you think of Alaska, you probably imagine the snowy mountains of Denali National Park or the cerulean blue glaciers of Kenai Fjords, but as it turns out, Alaska is home to many more underrated national parks. Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk Valley, and Lake Clark are the state’s least visited parks (in fact, all three saw fewer than 18,000 visitors in 2019) due to their remoteness. But if you’re looking for adventure, it’s worth going the extra mile to visit.
Gates of the Arctic is the northernmost national park in the country, and due to its lack of designated trails, visitors must be serious hikers. Then there’s Kobuk Valley, which looks like a scene from another planet—or at the very least, the Sahara Desert—with its giant sand dunes rising from the Arctic Ocean. Finally, Lake Clark is accessible only by plane from Homer or Anchorage, but the vast wilderness offers bear viewing, hiking, fishing, and kayaking on the stunning preserve.