The 13 Least Visited National Parks
The are 63 U.S. National Parks located across the 50 states and assorted territorial possessions. Many are known not just for their stunning natural beauty, but also for the crowds they attract. Yosemite NP in California attracted 3.2 million visitors in 2021, over 5 million visited Zion NP in Utah, and the Great Smoky Mountains on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina had a whopping 14 million visitors.
If it’s solitude you seek, then don’t despair. The U.S. National Park Service has compiled a list of its sites and the number of visitors they receive annually. Tens of our National Parks attract less than 500,000 annually, and nearly all of these are within a few hours’ drive or travel from civilization. Most of the least visited National Parks are found in Alaska, but there are plenty of opportunities to explore nature relatively on your own without the crowds.
Keep scrolling to see the 13 least visited U.S. National Parks in the lower 48 and the Caribbean.
13. Carlsbad Caverns NP
Located in New Mexico, the park’s Big Room cavern is nearly 4,000 feet long and 625 feet wide, making it the largest cavern in North America.
Pictured: pathway through the Big Room
12. Pinnacles NP
Located in California, this park is a half-day drive south of San Francisco.
Pictured: the Jagged Cliffs
11. Virgin Islands NP
Located in the Virgin Islands, this park is popular with hikers, boaters, swimmers, nature lovers, and sunbathers.
Pictured: palm trees on Maho Bay Beach
10. Channel Islands NP
Located in the state of California, this string is mere miles off the coasts of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, but seemingly in a entirely different time and place.
Pictured: miles of windswept white sands on Water Canyon Beach
9. Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
Located in the state of Colorado, the canyon walls are so steep that in some places the Gunnison River and canyon floor receive only minutes of sunlight per day.
Pictured: the Gunnison River
8. Wolf Trap NP for the Performing Arts
Located in the state of Virginia, this park features outdoor venues for the performing arts.
Pictured: Meadow Pavilion
7. Guadalupe Mountains NP
Located in the state of Texas, this park is in many ways akin to its far more visited Grand Canyon NP.
Pictured: El Capitan under storm clouds
6. Voyageurs NP
Located in the state of Minnesota, this park is popular with campers seeking solitude.
Pictured: a waterfront tent campsite
5. Congaree NP
Located in the state of South Carolina, with miles of trails through swamps and old-growth bottomland hardwood forests.
Pictured: Boardwalk Loop, a meandering elevated walkway
4. Great Basin NP
Located in the state of Nevada, this park features alpine meadows and glacial canyons.
Pictured: Parry Primrose blooms along the banks of the forest stream
3. Dry Tortugas NP
Located in the Florida Keys and you’ll need a boat or plane to visit.
Pictured: Tortugas Ecological Reserve in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects diverse habitats including seagrass beds and coral reefs
2. Isle Royale NP
MICHAEL J THOMPSON/SHUTTERSTOCK
Located in the state of Michigan features opportunities for solitude while kayaking, hiking, camping, and more.
Pictured: Sunrise on Chippewa Harbor
1. North Cascades NP
Located in the state of Washington and known as the little and less visited sibling of the more famed Glacier NP.
Pictured: Reflection of Mount Shuksan in Picture Lake