In case you hadn't yet heard, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. August 25th is the date of the actual National Park Service Centennial, and the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service are hoping to kick off another century of national park stewardship. To that end, they have developed a campaign called FindYourPark.com to inspire people to connect with, enjoy, and support America’s National Parks. Everyone’s heard of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Glacier National Parks, but there are so many other amazing National Parks to explore.
And you can get in on the action by visiting one of the lesser-known parks. There are 58 parks that span 412 areas and cover more than 84 million acres. Whether you prefer to go camping in a tent or travel along in an Airstream, there just might be a spectacular National Park in your next of the woods.
5 Lesser-Known National Parks
Looking to get away--like really away? Consider Isle Royale in Michigan. Located in Lake Superior, Isle Royale is made up of one main island and 400 smaller islands and is only accessible via boat or seaplane.
Situated along the Maine coastline, the highlights of the park are the rugged island landscape and America’s first sunrise each day. The natural beauty of the park features a variety of landscapes including granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes, ponds, and ocean shoreline. And you might not know that it also has the distinction of being the first east coast National Park.
Straddling the two states of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Smoky Mountains is the most visited National Park in the country. Known for the prevalence of waterfalls, the park is considered to be among the most biodiverse in the National Park system, which in part comes from the climate and weather of the park. Named for the regular occurrence of fog, the park is one of the rainiest habitats in the United States outside of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
This park is one of the best from which to stargaze because of its remote location. Made up of ancient bristlecone pine trees, lakes and streams, and limestone caverns, the park is located in east-central Nevada near the border with Utah.
Situated along the meandering Congaree River in central South Carolina, this 22,200-acre park protects the largest contiguous tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States and features one of the highest deciduous forest canopies in the world.
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