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14 Most Remote National Parks in America

While national parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon attract millions of visitors, America is home to some incredible remote national parks that offer the chance for solitude and stunning natural beauty. If you’re looking to become immersed in nature, far from the crowds, there are many options you might not have considered. From Alaska’s spectacular wilderness to US territories in the South Pacific, these are the country’s most remote gems to explore.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska Wrangell-St.Elias National Park, Alaska
Credit: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park, Alaska by © Galyna Andrushko | Dreamstime.com

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Covering 13.2 million acres, Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest national park in the U.S., yet it gets few visitors, less than 75,000 in 2019. It’s about the same size as the country of Switzerland, Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks combined, and home to the most extensive glacial system with over a third covered in glaciers. You can follow any one of the winding rivers or streams to its source to discover a glacier to marvel at, and it also hosts 16 of the tallest mountains in the U.S., including Mount Wrangell, a large active volcano that, on a clear day, can be seen smoking.

Dry Tortugas National Park Dry Tortugas
Credit: Dry Tortugas by Varina C/shutterstock.com

Dry Tortugas National Park

About 70 miles out from Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park, spread over seven small islands, has a very remote location that can be accessed by ferry. Once here you’ll find an incredible abundance of marine life and shipwrecks that can be explored by snorkeling or diving. Much of it is part of the Florida Keys reef system, the world’s third-largest. At Garden Key, visitors can check out a large 19th-century fort, Fort Jefferson, which offers fantastic stargazing and camping.

Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
Credit: Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska by Bigstock.com

Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve

Of course, Alaska is home to many of America’s most remote parks, including Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve which spans around seven million acres of Arctic wilderness, lying north of the Arctic Circle. It’s home to wildlife like caribou, muskoxen and millions of birds, but as the northernmost national park in the country, getting there requires a rather arduous journey with a combination of flights and driving starting from Fairbanks. That keeps most from coming, with only around 12,000 visitors making the trek annually, so you’ll be able to enjoy it practically all to yourself. There are no established roads or trails in the park, other than the ones created by animals, with hiking, paddling or floating on the rivers the most popular activities.

Channel Islands National Park, California Channel Islands of California
Credit: Channel Islands of California by wikimedia.org

Channel Islands National Park, California

Channel Islands National Park is primarily made up of water like Dry Tortugas, with five of the chain’s eight islands protected. Also accessed by ferry from either Oxnard or Ventura on California’s central coast, nearly 150 endemic species reside here, including seals, sea lions and nearly 400 bird species, which has led to its nickname: “Galapagos of North America.” Hike through the mountains and scan the horizon to see migrating gray whales – East Anacapa Island offers trails that lead to Inspiration Point, a cliff that overlooks the Pacific. Or, go underwater by scuba diving in the kelp forests. Exploring the sea caves in a kayak is popular too.

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Credit: Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota by Bigstock.com

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

With so much water, Voyageurs National Park has been compared to Washington State’s Olympic National Park and Maine’s Acadia National Park, providing many of the same activities without the crowds. Nearly half the park is water, with 655 miles of unspoiled shoreline and over 500 islands. Visitors get around on everything from canoes and kayaks to houseboats via the network of interconnected waterways and lakes, enjoying swimming, fishing, wildlife viewing and hiking. In the winter, many come to enjoy cross-country skiing on the six miles of groomed trails.

North Cascades National Park, Washington North Cascades National Park
Credit: North Cascades National Park by Bigstock.com

North Cascades National Park, Washington

While it’s just 110 miles north-east of Seattle, North Cascades National Park is one of the least-visited national parks in the country and is filled with remote wilderness areas that include more than 300 glaciers, turquoise glacier-fed alpine lakes, dense forest, cascading waterfalls, dramatic mountain peaks, and abundant wildlife, including gray wolves, black bears, wolverines, marmots and eagles. Enjoy everything from day hikes to backpacking routes and breathtaking scenic drives without the crowds.

National Park of American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa
Credit: National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa by americansamoa.noaa.gov

National Park of American Samoa

Spread over three different islands, around 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is about as remote as you can get, drawing only about 5,000 visitors annually. It’s home to secluded villages, coral sand beaches, and a remarkable underwater world with more than 950 fish species and over 250 species of coral. Enjoy hiking trails with ocean views and through tropical rainforest, as well as experiencing well-preserved Samoan culture. Visitors who want an authentic look at daily life can even stay with a local Samoan family through the park’s homestay program.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Credit: Theodore Roosevelt National Park by ZakZeinert/shutterstock.com

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

North Dakota sees few tourists, but it’s home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the place where the former president spent time as a naturalist, rancher and hunter. It’s a rather desolate yet beautiful stretch of bluffs, ridges, and unique rock formations with streaks of yellow, red, black, brown and silver, framed by green prairie where buffalo can be seen grazing in nearly every direction. In this vast landscape, the only sounds often heard are of the hoofbeats of the buffalo and the rush of the rivers. Base yourself in the gateway town of Medora to enjoy strolling the wooded sidewalks and popping into Old West saloons too.

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan The Lake Superior Shoreline on a bright sunny day, in Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Credit: The Lake Superior Shoreline on a bright sunny day, in Isle Royale National Park, Michigan by bigstock.com

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Located in the middle of Lake Superior, lsle Royale National Park includes Isle Royale, the lake’s largest island, along with some 450 smaller surrounding islands. There are no permanent residents on Isle Royale, and it’s only open to the public between April and October. To get there, you’ll need to take a ferry or seaplane from Houghton or Copper Harbor, Michigan. It is home to all sorts of wildlife, including moose and wolves. Visitors can themselves in nature, exploring forests, backcountry trails and shorelines, as well as enjoy kayaking, boating, fishing and camping. It’s also a popular spot for scuba diving, with sunken shipwrecks that have remained intact.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada Landscape at Great Basin National Park
Credit: Landscape at Great Basin National Park by © Foster Eubank - Dreamstime.com

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

While Las Vegas may be Nevada’s most popular tourist destination, this state is filled with vast open, empty spaces, including spectacular remote wilderness areas. Near the border of Utah is Great Basin National Park, which draws few visitors yet boasts breathtaking scenery with few other humans to share it with. The night skies are some of the country’s darkest, providing incredible stargazing, and during the day, visitors can hike trails to pristine mountain lakes and through ancient pine forests, walking for hours without seeing another soul. It’s also home to Lehman Caves, with ornately decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, and more that can be seen on a guided tour.

Katmai National Park, Alaska Brown bear, Katmai National Park, Alaska
Credit: Brown bear, Katmai National Park, Alaska by bigstock.com

Katmai National Park, Alaska

Southern Alaska’s Katmai National Park may not be easy to reach, but once there, visitors can hike among 14 active volcanoes, and enjoy what draws most, the chance to marvel at the largest population of protected brown bears in the world.  It can only be accessed by plane or boat, booked through an excursion, with a flight tour from Homer providing a bird’s-eye view of glaciers, mountains, volcanoes and calderas before touching down for a scenic hike leading to the bear-viewing sites. Depending on the season, you may be able to see the bears doing everything from catching the leaping salmon to nursing cubs.

Lake Clark National Park, Alaska Lake Clark National Park
Credit: Lake Clark National Park by © Lawrence Weslowski Jr | Dreamstime.com

Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

One of the best of the country’s least-visited parks, Lake Clark National Park is another remote Alaska gem, accessed by flight only. Edged by the towering Chigmit Mountains, it boasts remarkably diverse landscapes, with everything from coastal forest to Turquoise-Telaquana Plateau tundra and glaciers. This is the place to come for wilderness adventures, including camping alongside a turquoise mountain lake with no other humans in sight, although there’s a good chance you’ll see a bear and plenty of bald eagles. A variety of hikes are available, including easy day treks to waterfalls. Other activities including biking and kayaking.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado Rewarding views at the bottom of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Credit: Rewarding views at the bottom of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park by Alyssa L. Ochs

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado

One of Colorado’s hidden treasures, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park surrounds part of a deep, steep-walled gorge that was carved through Precambrian rock by the Gunnison River, with walls that dramatically rise for nearly 2,000 feet. Located in a remote area in the south-west region of the state, visitors can hike the trails and enjoy scenic drives on roads that wind along the south and north rims providing spectacular views of the precipitous drops and striated Painted Wall cliff. Watch for the myriad of wildlife with the park home to everything from elk and mule deer to golden eagles.

Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska Caribou trekking across the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska
Credit: Caribou trekking across the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes, Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska by NPS.gov

Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska

Kobuk Valley National Park lies north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska and provides the chance to explore a true wilderness, rewarding the few adventurous enough to get there with 61 miles of the Kobuk River and remarkable sand dunes. Created by glaciers, the Hunt River, Little Kobuk and Great Kobuk Sand Dunes can soar up to 100 feet high as the largest in the Arctic. Half a million caribou migrate through the dunes, crossing river bluffs twice each year. There are no signs and no roads here – most book a flight from a nearby city like Kotzebue. Along the way, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the braided rivers where wildlife like moose are often spotted.

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