Want to get away from it all? Try the 10 most ‘underrated’ national parks

McBride Inlet in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, which ParkSleepFly rated as America’s most underrated national park.

Andrew Peacock | Stone | Getty Images

Ever since Covid-19 first made social distancing a factor, Americans wanting to escape lockdown boredom and work-from-home isolation have sought out open areas at the nation’s 63 national parks — and lots of of national monuments, preserves and different federally protected spots — in historic droves.

Popular locations like Muir Woods National Monument close to San Francisco and Acadia National Park in coastal Maine have mockingly develop into so crowded that the National Park Service has had to introduce advance reservations for sure areas and points of interest.

Acadia, for instance, drew 71.38% extra guests year-to-date as of August than final 12 months, internet hosting some 802,926 parkgoers in that month alone. In response, the Park Service instituted a reservation system for motorists wanting to drive up Cadillac Mountain, arguably the park’s high attraction.

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The annual progress in guests in not merely attributable to depressed journey final 12 months. Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, for instance, had round 752,114 leisure guests in June, in accordance to the park service. While that was a 61% bounce from June 2020, it was additionally a 20% improve from June 2019 — and represents an all-time excessive for that month.

Bigger crowds and restricted entry have eaten into the wide-open attraction that pulls guests to the parks in the first place. Yet, whereas you’ll have extra firm than you need when you go to Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, there are a number of implausible national parks that stay undervisited.

Which parks to pack for? Travel web site ParkSleepFly compiled lists of what it termed the most “underrated” and “overrated” U.S. national parks, by which it meant parks that, respectively, earn excessive customer opinions however entice fewer individuals or — conversely — draw giant numbers however get decrease grades.

10 most underrated U.S. national parks

(Rank / Park / # of Visitors / % Excellent Reviews)

1. Glacier Bay, Alaska: 5,748; 92.9%
2. Kenai Fjords, Alaska: 15,882; 89.9%
3. Crater Lake, Oregon: 670,500; 87.1%
4. Redwood, California: 265,177; 86.2%
5. Badlands, South Dakota: 916,932; 86.1%
6. Sequoia, California: 796,086; 83.6%
7. Dry Tortugas, Florida: 48,543; 82.9% (tie)
7. Haleakala, Hawaii: 19,147; 82.9% (tie)
9. White Sands, New Mexico: 15,383; 82.3%
10. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico: 183,835; 81.5%

Source: ParkSleepFly

The website did so by analyzing and evaluating customer evaluate information from Tripadvisor with official 2020 attendance figures for parks with each fewer and greater than 1 million guests per 12 months.

Martin Jones, CEO of ParkSleepFly, stated it’s no shock guests flock to the many breathtaking national parks in the U.S.

“However, there is something particularly beautiful about the ‘underappreciated’ national parks,” he added. “The serenity of the untouched locations provides for a unique experience, and the opportunity to truly appreciate the stunning views, away from the hustle and bustle.” 

The No. 1 underrated — or undervisited, given a excessive satisfaction fee — national park on the ParkSleepFly record is Glacier Bay. The park, in southeastern Alaska, had simply 5,748 guests final 12 months, regardless of 92.9% of its Tripadvisor opinions being “excellent.” Its relative distant location vis-a-vis the decrease 48 states could also be to blame.

Some of the different so-called underrated parks are additionally in remoted places or a aircraft journey away from the mainland U.S. These embrace second-place Kenai Fjords, additionally in Alaska, and, tied at No. 7, Dry Tortugas — a distant island chain west of Key West, Florida — and Haleakala, on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

When it comes to overrated national parks, which mainly advantage a “meh” from Tripadvisor reviewers, the high spot went to Indiana Dunes in Indiana. Although it drew practically 2.Three million guests in 2020, a mere 51% of the park’s Tripadvisor opinions have been glorious.

Rounding out the backside 5 have been Cuyahoga Valley, in jap Ohio; Hot Springs, in Arkansas; Yosemite, in central California; and Zion in Utah — all extremely common by way of customer numbers.

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