According to a recent FinanceBuzz survey, over a quarter of Americans are opting for a road trip instead of flying this summer. So if you begin traveling again this summer, you may want to consider hopping in your car for a national park road trip.
The U.S. is home to more than 400 national park sites. From battlefields to memorials to preserves to parks, these sites span more than 85 million acres across all 50 states. That means there are plenty of places you can visit while still practicing social distancing. Plus, entrance fees to all national parks have been waived for the time being.
Assuming that restrictions continue to be gradually lifted over the course of this year, here are some overlooked national parks where you can avoid the crowds.
• Near the Canadian border in northern Minnesota is Voyageurs National Park, a vast maze of interconnected waterways, islands and forests. Once an important segment of the fur trade route, Voyageurs is now known for its amazing water-based recreation and camping experiences. With its 218,000 acres of lush forests and expansive lakes, and a night sky that offers views of the northern lights, Voyageurs National Park is as isolated as it is beautiful.
• Just off the Utah border in Central Nevada, Great Basin National Park encompasses more than 77,000 acres of diverse landforms and living things. Although filled with incredible natural treasures like limestone caverns, the highest peak in the state and ancient bristlecones pines (the oldest living trees on earth), there’s one thing Great Basin National Park doesn’t have much of: people. Great Basin National Park received only 131,802 visitors in 2019. That means you can walk among trees dating back thousands of years, enjoy the cavernous Lehman Caves, and take in the panoramic views from the 13,063-foot summit of Wheeler Peak nearly all to yourself.
• Chaco Culture National Historic Park is a system of archaeological sites in northwestern New Mexico that showcases the remarkable organizational and architectural abilities of the Ancestral Puebloan people. Between 850 and 1250 A.D., Chaco Canyon was a major center of the thriving Ancestral Pueblo culture. Known for the monumental scale of its architecture, Chaco developed into a ceremonial, political, and economic center. Today, Chaco Culture is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see for anyone looking for a remote and isolated travel destination. Be aware that it’s not an easy place to get to, but that might be just what you’re looking for this summer.
• Nestled in the vast wilderness of northern Washington state is North Cascades National Park. Characterized by its rugged beauty, the North Cascades National Park Service Complex offers up 684,000 acres of majestic mountain scenery, from jagged peaks and glaciers to cascading waterfalls, rivers and trails. Although the North Cascades National Park Services Complex sees an abundance of snow, visitors will still find plenty of activities year-round, including camping, boating, kayaking, fishing, and hundreds of hiking trails.