Explore 6 National Parks You Didn’t Know Existed

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Every year, tens of thousands of visitors flock to national parks from Yellowstone and Yosemite. For nature enthusiasts who crave more space and solitude, the popularity of some parks means more than 400 others open for exploration. Here are six you might not have considered — or even knew existed.

1. Katmai National Park And Preserve

Located on the Alaskan Peninsula, remote Katmai National Park and Preserve saw just over 50,000 visitors in 2020, making it the tenth least-visited park of the year. However, COVID-19 may have prevented access. Inaccessible by car, the park relies on air travel from Anchorage followed by a chartered boat. Learn more at the Katmai National Park and Preserve website.


2. Isle Royale National Park

This charming national park on the border of Michigan and Ontario, Canada saw fewer than 6,500 visitors in 2020. Those who find their way to the rustic island enjoy hiking, kayaking and even scuba diving through decades-old shipwrecks. Thanks to the eco-friendly Rock Harbor Lodge, you needn’t explore it all in a day. Discover more on the Isle Royale National Park website.


3. Great Basin National Park

A certified International Dark Sky Park, Great Basin National Park on the easternmost edge of Nevada will delight amateur astronomers with its star-filled skies. Site of the annual Astronomy Festival in September, the park allows most observers to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. But that’s not all you’ll find in this hidden gem. The high mountain desert also has ancient bristlecone pine groves, marble caves, and herds of bighorn sheep. The park is also home to Nevada’s only glacier. Learn more at the official Great Basin National Park website


4. National Park Of American Samoa

Yes, there are national parks outside the 50 states! The National Park of American Samoa comprises three separate islands, each with family-friendly adventures. Discover trails for hiking, shallow waters for snorkeling, and tropical beaches for leisurely walks. The park is also home to a wide variety of birds, fish, and even coral. Learn more at the National Park of American Samoa website


5. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

If North Dakota isn’t on your travel list, let us change your mind with Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Untouched by time, this expansive preserve is home to wild horses, bison, and nearly 200 bird species. The list of “must do” activities ranges from hiking and kayaking to discovering Native American culture. Learn more at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park website


6. Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park lies on the Congaree River in the heart of South Carolina. Home to some of the eastern United States’ last remaining old-growth forest, the park is filled with soaring bald cypress and water tupelo trees. Wander along elevated boardwalk paths, kayak in Cedar Creek, or pull out your binoculars to add a few bird species to your life list. Learn more at the Congaree National Park website


Bonus: Black Canyon of the Gunnison

This other-worldly park sits in a steep gorge, cut by the Gunnison River. In addition to striking sunsets, Black Canyon has sweeping views from trails that wind around the rim and even more to discover on the river itself. Take East Portal Road to the water, where you’ll find elk, deer and even golden eagles.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Did we miss your favorite national park? Let us know at editor@mindfulescapes.com, so we can give it the attention it deserves.

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