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Best National Parks Without the Crowds

These lesser-visited parks offer some breathing room away from the crowds, with plenty of time to bask in the beauty of the landscape. Here are the best national parks for a moment of solitude:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Photo © zrfphoto/iStock.

The park’s South Rim has popular overlooks, but the long drive to the North Rim means you might have the place to yourself.

Channel Islands, California:

Most visitors arrive by boat and only stay for the day. Plan to camp overnight and you’ll have an island nearly to yourself, especially on Anacapa (which has only seven campsites).

Gates of the Arctic, Alaska:

Access to this remote arctic park is only by air. Once you’re dropped off, you can float or paddle a Wild and Scenic River or backpack through the trail-less wilderness.

Great Basin, Nevada:

Few visit Great Basin, which means you can explore its caves or climb the trail to Wheeler Peak.

Guadalupe Mountains, Texas:

Stand alone on the highest summit in Texas as you overlook the Chihuahuan Desert.

Haleakalā, Hawaii:

Sunrise at Haleakala.
Sunrise at Haleakala. Photo © Drew Sulock/iStock.

Visitors flock to the summit of this volcano to watch the sun rise. After that, parking spots open up and crowds dissipate. Come for sunset instead, when there are fewer people.

Isle Royale, Michigan:

This park is set in the midst of Lake Superior, where only canoes and sea kayaks can reach its private bays. Paddle alone around the island’s 337 miles of shoreline.

North Cascades, Washington:

Pick up a backcountry permit and stay overnight in a shoreline camp on Ross Lake. Backpack into the mountains to put down some solitary miles.

Theodore Roosevelt, North Dakota:

Most visitors head for the park’s South Unit, but you can find secluded nooks in the badlands of the North Unit or at Roosevelt’s favorite, the Elkhorn Ranch.

Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska:

The largest national park in the United States is home to millions of acres of solitude, especially along its less traveled Nabesna Road.


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