Get your wanderlust on and see the country by visiting these spectacular but lesser-known national parks.
Founded in 1916, the National Park Service is one of the greatest American treasures. Currently, there are 59 parks that cover more than 85 million acres. While many of these parks are recognizable “bucket list” destinations–Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and more–there are many others you most likely have never heard that are well worth adding to that list.
Read on to discover some of the most special natural places that others who went before us had the wisdom and foresight to preserve just for us!
10 of the Most Beautiful National Parks You’ve Never Visited
1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Discover starry night skies and natural darkness like you’ve never seen them before. America’s National Parks, like the Sleeping Bear Dunes Park, are among some of the most impressive places to view the stars without as much light pollution.
2. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Looking for easy hikes along one of the oldest mountain ranges in the U.S. (Blue Ridge Mountains)? Then consider this park located in central Virginia. It features Skyline Drive, a 105-mile drive through the park along which one can stop to enjoy vistas, camp, hike, and more.
3. Arches National Park, Utah
This visually stunning park features over 2,000 natural stone arches and other land formations that are full of color and texture—it’s a favorite among nature photographers. Enjoy the trails, from easy to difficult, revel in the sunsets, and more in this wonderland of rock.
4. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Not all of our natural treasures are above ground. In fact, this park features more than 119 caves below the Chihuahuan Desert formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes.
5. Fossil Butte, Wyoming
Fossil lovers should visit this park. It is the home of some of the world’s best-preserved fossils. Many fossils can be found on display and there are educational programs galore.
6. White Sands, New Mexico
Considered one of the world’s greatest natural wonders the 275 square miles of sparkly white sands are something to see.
7. Assateague Island, Virginia
The wild horses of Assateague are a must-see. Descendants of domesticated animals, the feral horses of Assateague are a sight, and the park is one of the only places to experience wild horses in the US.
8. Cape Cod National Seashore. Massachusetts
Many have heard of Cape Cod, but not many may know that there is a national park located on the cape. Experience the lovely coastal beauty of the cape by visiting the more than forty miles of beaches and marshes.
9. Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, Washington/Oregon
History and the extraordinary beauty of the Pacific rain forests are combined in this park named after the famous explorers. Explore both history and nature at this coastal park.
10. Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, Hawaii
Established in 2000 for the preservation, protection, and interpretation of traditional Native Hawaiian culture and natural resources, Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is another site that combines both history and nature. It features a 175-mile trail that highlights historical and cultural sites along with the natural beauty of Hawaii.
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