The Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and Yellowstone National Park may be iconic names, but the United States is home to more than 423 parks, many of which are out of anyone’s reach. Visit the USA has listed six lesser-known national parks on its bucket list for everyone.
Underground Labyrinth for Cavers – Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park in southern Kentucky is home to the world’s longest known cave system, famous for its intricate system of tunnels and giant mammoth chambers. The first humans entered through the majestic arch into Mammoth Cave about 4,000 years ago, and today visitors can explore the 600-kilometre caves on their own or take one of the educational tours offered by zoo rangers. For those who prefer to keep their heads above ground, beautiful hiking trails await through gorgeous nature and along the two rivers that flow through the park.
American White Desert – White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Like a sea of sand, White Sands rise brilliantly from the heart of the Tularosa Basin in the middle of the New Mexico desert. Formed from white sand, sandy gypsum once formed a shallow sea floor that inundated the area 250 million years ago. The sand dunes here are still moving at a rate of up to nine meters per year. These sand dunes make for a fun day of sand boarding all year round, which is popular with the whole family. But be sure to bring enough water with you because the temperature can rise to more than 40 degrees Celsius in summer. A good option for warm days is to join a ranger-led sunset picnic, so that you can fully enjoy the majestic view without having to contend with the sweltering heat.
Pure Wilderness – North Cascades National Park, Washington State
North Cascades National Park in northern Washington state covers more than 2,040 square miles in the high mountains of the Cascade Range. It is the second least visited national park in the United States after Alaska. The highest peaks of the national park remain immaculate, but more than three hundred glaciers can be discovered on foot. Travelers can enjoy many activities in the park such as fishing, boating, horse riding and camping.
On the Native American Trail – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
West of the Rockies, on the densely forested Colorado Plateau, is Mesa Verde National Park (Spanish for “green table”) – the most culturally and historically significant national park in the United States. The park offers a glimpse into the culture of the early Pueblo Indians who have lived in southwestern Colorado for more than 700 years.
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More than 4,000 archaeological sites are scattered throughout the park and are among the best-preserved remains of cliff dwellings and stone towers in the United States. Several hiking trails lead to lookout points with fantastic panoramic views of the desert landscape. But perhaps the best way to gain insight into the daily lives of the park’s hundreds of years residents is to take a tour of the ruins. And don’t forget to look up at night, because the starry sky is amazingly beautiful.
Face to face with moose – Isle Royal National Park, Michigan
Located in remote Michigan, Isle Royale National Park spans several islands in Lake Superior and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. The remote island features dense forests, clear lakes, cool caves and fauna including wolves, beavers, foxes and moose. Travelers have a good chance of encountering wandering wildlife as they walk the trails along swamps and lakes. But they should pay attention to the deposits of chlorasterolite – green semi-precious stones scattered throughout the park. The 69 km long Greenstone Ridge Trail passes through the hills that bear the island’s name. The entire tour takes about 16 hours, but visitors can also walk shorter distances.
Welcome to Heaven – American Samoa National Park
Located in the South Pacific Ocean, American Samoa is a territory of the United States and home to one of the most idyllic national parks in the United States. Although the trip to the national park in American Samoa is long, it is well worth it. Covered by sandy beaches, beautiful rainforests, archaeological sites, and hiking trails above Mount Lata, the park features some of the most pristine landscapes in the world. The beautiful, untouched coral reefs of more than 800 species of fish provide ideal snorkeling opportunities. Visitors can also take a boat to the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
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