Many of America's national parks saw a record number of visitors in 2021 as people realized that it's easy to see natural wonders in their backyards. And while popular national parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon may always stand out, there are plenty of lesser-known national parks that experts believe may be worth a visit. Below, we will look at two in Florida that have been identified as such:
Determining Which National Parks are Often Overlooked: The website HuffPost wanted to know which national parks are often passed over by visitors. So it asked visitors and travel experts to share which parks they felt were underrated. The result was 15 parks listed in an article entitled "Underrated National Parks You Should Visit."
How Did Florida Fare?: Florida had two national parks mentioned in this article - Dry Tortugas National Park and Everglades National Park, both in south Florida. According to CBS News, Dry Tortugas is the 7th least visited national park in the United States. According to Market Watch, while Yosemite sees around 2.7 million visitors per year, Everglades National Park, which is the “largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S," has only around 541,000 visitors per year in comparison.
Why the Experts Felt Dry Tortugas National Park was Underrated: Perhaps one reason that the park isn't visited as often as others are that you have to take a boat or plane to get there. Still, according to CBS News, it's one of the best day trips you can take out of Key West. Visitors can enjoy marine exploration, birding, snorkeling, and touring historic Fort Jefferson.
Travel author Joe Yogerst told HuffPost:
“Another overlooked park is Dry Tortugas, a subtropical archipelago located at the very western end of the Florida Keys that you can only reach by ferry or seaplane. You can explore a Civil War fort, scuba or snorkel coral reefs, and camp on the beach.”
What Reviewers Liked about Dry Tortugas: This national park has an almost 5 out of 5 rating by over 5,000 reviewers on TripAdvisor. Many people had a good experience taking the ferry and enjoyed the history of Fort Jefferson. Some said that trying to snorkel and tour the fort while also trying to catch the ferry back was a little too hectic, so they recommend choosing one or the other, especially if you want time for a leisurely lunch.
According to the park's website, the entrance fee is $15.
Why Experts Feel Everglades National Park is Overlooked: Perhaps one reason this park is sometimes overlooked is that its dry season is from November to April, when some try to avoid the Florida heat. Still, experts find much to like about this park, which arguably allows for spectacular views of wildlife no matter whether one is on foot or in a boat.
Author and naturalist Janisse Ray told HuffPost:
“This is a place that never fails to surprise and bewitch. Hiking through sawgrass prairies, hope to see large alligators or or a Florida panther ― and kayaking in Ten Thousand Islands, hope for manatees, bottlenose dolphins, and even crocodiles. The bird life is especially spectacular.”
What Reviewers Say About Everglades National Park: This park had over 1,600 TripAdvisor reviews for a rating of around 4.5. Many reviewers described the hiking trails as a nice, leisurely experience. Many mentioned the wonderful birding. Some recommended interacting with the helpful rangers and taking the tram trail or boat tour.
Admission price is listed at $30 per private vehicle.
Although Florida has 11 national parks, these are two which may be less crowded during peak season. However, if the reviews are any indication, being overlooked doesn't mean they aren't worth a visit. That said, it is always recommended that you call or check the applicable website before you visit to ensure that all amenities are open.