The USA has countless national parks, all of which are incredible to visit and a must in any travel bucket list. While many of them are quite famous, there are plenty that are much lesser known and blessedly still remain free of big crowds. Among the latter, there a few real gems that are well worth a visit.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)
Cuyahoga National Park is Ohio’s only national park and a real gem on the national park trail. Stretching from Cleveland to Akron, it features fantastic forest trails that run along the Cuyahoga River.
Hiking and biking are characteristic of this national park. 125 miles of stunning hiking and biking trails are of course impossible to cover in one visit, but the Virginia Kendall Ledges Trail is a great option for first-timers. This trail runs through a forest path lined by huge limestones, mysterious caves and mossy cliffs. Visiting Brandywine Falls, an awesome 65-foot-tall waterfall is another must in Cuyahoga!
A special feature in this park is a train that allows visitors to comfortably see the park while riding along some of the most scenic spots. Best of all, it is possible to combine relaxation and adventurous exercise because the railroad actually has a Bike Abroad Program, which permits riding the train one way and biking your way back!
Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)
Those who think white sand and turquoise water are exclusive for the Caribbean or Mediterranean seas are in for a very pleasant surprise at Dry Tortugas in Florida! This national park is another beauty quite untouched by mass tourism and it is probably one of the least visited national parks in the USA.
Only accessible by ferry or seaplane, it is quite remote and the chances of having it all pretty much to yourself are pretty good.
Dry Tortugas is 99% water, and 1% made up of seven islands. Snorkeling to see untouched coral reefs and spot stunning marine are both available. Of course, it is also possible to just lounge and relax in the most beautiful beaches in the USA!
Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is probably one of the most interesting destinations as far as national parks on the eastern side of the USA go. Aside from the physical natural attractions, like its thermal springs and mountain views, it has quite an interesting history. Believe it or not, it used to be a place for gambling and gangster fugitives, and it was one of Al Capone’s favorite vacation destinations!
The area is presently much more peaceful than it was in Al Capone’s era, obviously! Today it is a great spot for a relaxing getaway. The most recommended features at Hot Spring are Garvan Woodland Gardens, Bathhouse Row historical thermal baths and the 26 hiking trails on the Northwood system.
Congaree National Park (South Carolina)
Set in the heart of South Carolina, Congaree National Park is a very unique mountain forest. Towering trees, winding waterways, and floodplain ecosystems are all present in this national park, as well as great trails. Hiking, canoeing, and wildlife spotting, including turtles and river otters!
Although Congaree is relatively small and far from being the most popular park on the east coast, there’s plenty to see here, including some of the largest Loblolly and Chestnut Oak trees in the USA. It is a highly recommended spot for those keen on exploring some of the less famous parks in the region.
Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)
Set in the middle of Lake Superior in Michigan, Isle Royale National Park is another of the least visited national parks in the USA, which make it a great spot for travelers seeking an escape from mass tourism. The main reason Isle Royale remains pretty much untouched by crowds is its remote location, which is only accessible via boat or seaplane.
Those that do take the journey are in for a fantastic treat! 175 miles of hiking trails, numerous islands and bays that can be reached by canoe and kayak, and a huge variety of exploring options, both underwater and above ground, are all here for te taking.
Wolves, moose, beavers and foxes roam freely in the park. As if that wasn’t enough, there are numerous shipwrecks that divers can explore, as well as tons of ancient copper mining sites and historic lighthouses.
For hiking, Rock Harbor and the Windigo area are two good places for first-timers to the park.
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