Least Visited National Park Ideas To Skip The Crowds

Looking for a unique national park experience with less crowds? Check out one of these least visited national park ideas!

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Cliffs and Ocean In Channel Islands Least Visited National Park Ideas To Skip The Crowds

The national parks hold some of our country’s most spectacular scenery and adventures. They have become so popular in recent years, that the crowds can make them sometimes difficult to enjoy or to even get into a park. These least visited national park ideas can help you enjoy the parks and skip the crowds.

North Cascades Is The Least Visited National Park

North Cascades National Park in Washington is the most underrated hidden jewel in the national park system. The beautiful glacial lakes surrounded by mountains are postcard perfect. At 17,855 visitors per year, this is the least visited national park.

This park is known for its mountain peaks full of glaciers and waterfalls. The lake colors are unreal!

It is a popular park for hiking and backpacking. And how could you resist getting out on the water with that gorgeous watercolor of the park lakes? The park also offers an incredibly scenic drive if you are short on time.

Boat To Isle Royale Least Visited National Park Ideas To Skip The Crowds

Boat to Isle Royale National Park Grand Portage, MN

Isle Royale Is The Second Least Crowded National Park

Isle Royale is an island national park in Lake Superior. This Michigan national park is known as an almost untouched wilderness island.

Hiking and camping are popular activities in this park. Lucky visitors to the island can also catch a glimpse of the moose residents.

Isle Royale is the second least visited park with an annual visitation of 25, 844 per year. The main reason why it is less visited is due to its extremely remote location.

You can only reach the island via boat or seaplane. The boat trip from Michigan to the island is extremely long which limits visitors. However, you can also access the island via a much shorter boat ride from Grand Portage, Minnesota. This was how we chose to get to the island.

Although Isle Royale is not a crowded national park, it can still be a challenge to get a boat reservation. Be sure to book your boat trip as far in advance as possible to secure your spot.

Also check out: 6 Worst National Parks And Where To Go Instead

Dry Tortugas Is The Least Visited National Park In Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park is a little piece of paradise south of Key West, Florida. This island park is popular with beachgoers and history lovers alike.

This park is the home of Fort Jefferson which sits among the crystal clear water. The most popular park activities are touring the fort, snorkeling the reef, and camping.

This park is the third least visited with 83,817 visitors per year. Visitation is low due to its remote island location. The only way to access this park is by boat or seaplane.

Although Dry Tortugas National Park is not crowded, getting a boat, seaplane, or camping reservation can still be a challenge. Be sure to book your trip as far in advance as possible to secure your spot.

Girl On Boardwalk Trail Congaree Least Visited National Park Ideas To Avoid Crowds

Congaree National Park

Great Basin Is One Of The Least Visited National Parks

Great Basin is a desert beauty that lies in rural Nevada. This park is known for its gorgeous mountain peaks and desert valley above ground, and its stunning cave system underground.

The most popular park activities are hiking, the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, stargazing, and the Lehman Caves tours. This park has an annual attendance of 144,875 partly due to its rural location.

Although this is not a crowded national park, be sure to secure your cave tour reservations ahead of your visit to be sure you have a spot.

Congaree Is One Of The Least Crowded National Parks

The only national park in South Carolina, Congaree is an eerie sight to see. Most people believe that this park is a swamp but it is actually a flood plain and river park that protects many species of bottomland hardwood trees.

This is a small national park and with only 215,181 visitors a year, most people simply don’t know about it. This park is very rural and also very buggy. So buggy that it has a mosquito meter at the door. So be sure to bring your bug spray.

The most popular park activities are hiking the boardwalk trail, canoeing or kayaking the paddle trail, and the annual Firefly Festival. Each year in late May and early June, the synchronous fireflies light up the skies in Congaree National Park.

This rare event only happens in this park and in the Smoky Mountains. The festival is a popular event though so make sure to get your reservation in advance.

Also check out: Things To Do In Congaree National Park

Girl Looking Out Over Water Voyageurs Least Visited National Park Ideas To Avoid Crowds

Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park Is One Of The Least Visited National Parks In The Lower 48

This unique mostly water national park showcases the history of the Native Americans and French-Canadian fur traders. The park consists of islands and a maze of waterways along the United States-Canada border.

This park’s rural location is reflected in its annual visitation of 243,042. It’s worth the visit though if you are traveling in this area of Northern Minnesota.

This park is best explored by water. Boat and kayak rentals are popular. Houseboat rentals are another interesting way to enjoy this park and stay overnight at the same time. Taking a boat to see the historic Kettle Falls Hotel of 1918 is a fun day trip.

Fishing is also a very popular park activity. Something unique about this park is that you can camp on many of the little islands and along the shoreline of the park by obtaining a park permit.

Guadalupe Mountains Is One Of The Least Visited National Parks

Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas is a rugged desert paradise of mountains, dunes, and canyons. It is located on the Texas-New Mexico border close to Carlsbad Caverns which is also on the least visited list.

Popular park activities include hiking and stargazing. The canyons and ancient marine reef fossils from a prehistoric sea are visitor favorites.

This park sees 243,291 visitors per year. The peak seasons are the spring and the fall when desert temperatures are the most comfortable to explore.

Ocean Cliff Channel Islands Least Visited National Park Ideas To Avoid Crowds

Channel Islands National Park San Juan Island

Channel Islands National Park Is The Least Visited National Park In California

Off the coast of Santa Barbara, California lies a chain of islands so scenic and peaceful that you will feel like you have left the country. Channel Islands National Park is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of California.

This island paradise is only reachable by boat or plane which limits visitation to 319,252 people per year. It is worth the trip to reach the islands and the boat ride itself is scenic. We got the treat of seeing dolphins and whales from the boat on our March trip to the islands.

The most popular Channel Islands National Park activities are hiking, kayaking the sea caves, and camping. Although this is a less crowded park, you need to secure your boat or plane reservation to reach the islands in advance to guarantee your ticket.

Also check out: 3 Most Unusual National Park Hikes

Pinnacles Is A Newer Least Visited National Park

One of the newer national parks in the system is Pinnacles National Park. This park still seems to be a bit of a hidden gem among the parks with an annual visitation of 348,857.

This park has some amazing rock formations, talus rock caves, California Condors, and a beautiful lake that almost looks like it has black water. It’s definitely worth the drive out to this rural location.

The most popular park activities are hiking, camping, and rock climbing. We loved exploring the talus rock caves the most during our visit.

Pinnacles Naitonal Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Under the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas and New Mexico lies what most people say are the most magnificent cave formations in the world. The same ancient sea reef formations visible above ground in Guadalupe Mountains National Park formed the underground wonder of Carlsbad Caverns.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park draws 349,492 visitors per year and is the most crowded in the summer months and on weekends. The main draw of this park is of course the cave tours. Make sure to book your tour in advance to guarantee your spot.

Although the main park activities are the cave tours, above ground this park also has hiking and amazing star gazing.

Lassen National Park Is One Of California’s Least Visited National Parks

Lassen was a park that really surprised us with its beauty. The Cascade mountains, alpine lakes, and volcanic features are what really make this an incredible place to visit. 

With 359,635 visitors per year, this is California’s second least visited park and 12th least visited in the national park system. It is most crowded in the summer months. This Northern California beauty is not to be missed.

The most popular activities in this park are hiking, driving the scenic Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, and paddling Manzanita Lake. Our favorite part of the park was the volcanic features. We loved the bubbling mud pots and volcanic steam vents.

Snowy Mountain and Lake in Lassen Least Visited National Park Ideas To Avoid Crowds

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Frequently Asked Questions Least-Visited National Parks

What national park is the least visited?

North Cascades National Park is the least visited national park in the lower 48 with 17,855 visitors per year.

What are the least visited national parks lower 48?

These are the least visited national parks in the lower 48 based on park attendance from the 2021 NPS Stats Report.

#1 North Cascades National Park, Washington 17,855

#2 Isle Royale National Park, Michigan 25,844

#3 Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida 83,817

#4 Great Basin National Park, Nevada 144,875

#5 Congaree National Park, South Carolina 215,181

#6  Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota 243,042

#7 Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas 243,291

#8 Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park, Colorado 308,910

#9 Channel Islands National Park, California 319,252

#10 Pinnacles National Park, California 348,857

#11 Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico 349,492

#12 Lassen Volcanic National Park, California 359,635

What is the least crowded national park?

North Cascades National Park is the least crowded national park in the lower 48 with 17,855 visitors per year.

How do you avoid crowds in national parks?

The best way to avoid national park crowds is to visit during the off-season or shoulder season. Avoid peak season, weekends, and holidays. Another idea is to visit at dawn or dusk when the parks are less crowded.

Once in the park, take a hike away from the main area to enjoy a little solitude. You can also visit one of the least visited parks on this list to avoid crowds.

I hope this list of least visited national parks gave you some ideas for unique parks to visit when you want to avoid crowds. As much as we love the national parks, sometimes the crowds can ruin the experience. Give one of these parks a try instead!

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Want to know my secrets for booking hard to get national park campsites? Check out: How To Score Sold-Out National Park Campsites.

Looking for more national park inspiration? Check these out: 

Secret Ways To Skip Reservations For Entrance To Yosemite National Park

10 Best National Parks To Visit In Winter

Enjoy your adventure detour!

Man and Girl Hiking In Pinnacles Least Visited National Parks To Skip The Crowds
Full-Time RV Family In Front Of Mountains


We are so glad you found us. We are Scott, Van & Sissy. We turned our love of travel into a 7 year full-time RV living adventure.

Our goal is to guide you to unique US travel destinations, share RV travel tips, and help you navigate full-time RV living.

Something that makes us different is our unfiltered approach. We choose to share both the benefits and the challenges of traveling and the full-time RVing lifestyle.

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