Top Underrated US National Parks

We’re looking at some of the most incredible national parks and national monuments from across the United States, highlighting those that really don’t get enough love relative to just how unique they each are. Shoutout to travel and leisure for bringing these parks to our attention. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. We begin our cross country outdoor adventure in a National Park with one seriously eye catching name. Before you turn the car around, allow us to clarify. This place isn’t haunted in this case. Petrified doesn’t mean frozen in fright, but rather. Refers to the ossification of the trees in the area. The park covers approximately 370 square miles and takes its name from the abundance of fossilized trees, which date back approximately 225 million years. Erosion has also resulted in beautiful rock formations known as the Teepees, which are sure to catch the eye with their striking bands of color and with the relatively recent opening of previously inaccessible areas of the park like Martha’s Butte and Red Basin, Petrified Forest now has more to offer than ever. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hawaii.

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The state of Hawaii is a destination that requires little introduction. Each year, people flock to its picturesque sandy shores to enjoy some fun in the sun. However, many visitors will come and go without seeing all that the main island of Hawaii has to offer. Volcanoes National Park is home to Kilauea, which is among the world’s most active volcanoes. As a result of the long history of volcanic activity in the area, the landscape is utterly unique and rather surreal. The park is also home to Mauna Loa. The largest volcano of its kind doesn’t let all the volcano talk intimidate you, though the activity is carefully monitored, making this a perfectly safe, not to mention incredible place to hike and camp. Just remember, however, fascinating and abundant, the volcanic rocks might be within the park. Please do not take one home as a souvenir, dry Tortugas National Park, Florida. If you’re looking for something unique, you have come to the right place. Dry Tortugas National Park is remarkable in that, ironically, the vast majority of the area is. Actually, water is inaccessible by car. The park requires travel via either boat or seaplane. So yeah, that tends to keep the total number of visitors down.

Ask any of the roughly 57,000 people who do make the trip each year however, and they will quickly convince you that it is well worth the trouble. The park encompasses Fort Jefferson and the Seven Dry Tortugas Islands. The Fort itself was used as a prison during the Civil War and among the largest brick masonry buildings in the world. It continues to impress to this day. Thanks to careful, ongoing preservation efforts, the wildlife is both abundant and spectacular. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. It looks like something out of a dream or a sci-fi film when you first arrive at White Sands National Monument, it takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust stretched out before you see a rolling sea of, you guessed it, pristine white sand. The dune field itself covers about 275 square miles and is made up of gypsum crystals, which is what gives the dunes. Our distinctive coloring and texture. If you plan on spending the night, however, you’ll need to come prepared. There are no sites for cars or campers. The weather can also be a bit difficult.

It can change quickly if sandstorms are not uncommon. You will be roughing it and you still need a reservation. But to spend a night under the stars in this incomparable environment is truly a once in a lifetime experience that you will never forget craters of the Moon, National Monument and preserve Idaho. Since we feel like we’re already in outer space anyway, now seems like a logical time to talk about. Idaho’s otherworldly National Park located in central Idaho, Snake River Plain, this aptly named monument and Preserve got its extraterrestrial appearance as a result of its volcanic activity in the area that began some 15 million years ago. Because the lava fields are so extensive, greenery tends to be sparse, but wherever something does manage to take root, it looks like a tiny miracle and makes for a very compelling photo. The hiking here is excellent with trails for visitors at all levels of fitness and there are a number of natural attractions. That is sure to appeal to both geology enthusiasts and the uninitiated. One of the most distinct holdovers from the parks. More explosive past are the lava caves, five of which you can actually explore for yourself. Great Basin, National Park, Nevada. When it comes to criminally underrated national parks, Great Basin ranks quite high.

The park receives only about 150,000 visitors each year, and yet what it has to offer in terms of natural and diverse beauty. Arguably rivals the likes of Yosemite and Zion contained within the parks approximately 194. With miles of land, you’ll find glaciers, breathtaking mountain vistas, pristine Lake Stella, and some of the world’s oldest trees. The bristlecone Pines. Certain specimens found in this park are estimated to be upwards of 3000 years old, between the flora, fauna and dramatic landscape. Great Basin inspires awe, but there’s even more to appreciate underground in the form of the Lehman Caves, after dark stargazing is another big draw because of the extremely low population in the area and lack of. Pollution at night. The sky becomes an attraction in its own right as the stars come alive. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, Kentucky is home to the world’s single largest cave system. And yet Mammoth Cave National Park somehow only gets about half a million visitors each year.

Are people simply afraid of the dark? If so, we’d like to take this opportunity to inform you that they do offer lighted tours with electric lighting lining the path. Of course, those looking for a bit more adventure will likely gravitate towards other tour options. In which the only source of light is paraffin lamps carried by the guide and visitors. Sure, it might feel a little gloomy, but it’s also dramatic and surreal to explore. The mammoth cave is to step into another world, one of mystery and enchantment right out of the pages of a high fantasy novel. This cave system is also home to a variety of bat species. Sadly their numbers have plummeted overtime, but efforts are being made to encourage their return. Considering the fact that the exploration of the mammoth cave system is still ongoing. New portions are continuously being discovered. This National Park is a nice reminder that Earth still has secrets waiting to be uncovered.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and preserve, Colorado. When you think of Colorado, what’s the mental image that comes to mind? For many, it’s the towering Rocky Mountains, lush green forests, snow and an abundance of wildlife sand dunes reaching up to 700 feet in height. Not so much, but that’s the appeal of great sand Dunes National Park. It is totally unexpected. And a reminder of just how much diversity can be found within the boundaries of a single state. The park, combined with the preserve, covers roughly 233 square miles in southern Colorado and is home to North America’s tallest sand dunes. To see these rolling hills of sand backed by snow capped Green Mountains in the distance is hard to process. But when you’re there in person, seeing is believing. Once you get over the initial shock, however, you’ll love going sand sledding, hiking, and horseback riding through this utterly unique landscape.

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