By Caitlin Morton
July 17,2017, 8:23:44AM,EDT
Looking for the beauty of Yosemite and Yellowstone without the crowds? These under-the-radar National Parks deserve a spot on your bucket list.
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Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
Gates of the Arctic is the second-largest (8.4 million acres) and northernmost (lying completely above the Arctic Circle) national park in the U.S. It only received just over 10,000 visitors in 2016, due to its remoteness and lack of roads, but those self-sufficient travelers were lucky enough to enjoy some of the country’s most pristine mountain views, scenic rivers, and diverse wildlife, like wolverines, polar bears, and caribou. If you’d like to get those numbers up in future years, stick to spring and summer months, as temperatures linger around -20ºF to -50ºF from November to March.
Channel Islands National Park, California
Despite their proximity to the coast of Southern California, the five islands of Channel Islands National Park offer an undeveloped and isolated look at nature. The islands are only accessibly by park concessionaire boats and planes or private boat, but upon arrival, you can participate in activities like kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, camping, and viewing the diverse wildlife. The parks here feature everything from sea lions to blue whales, and over 100 additional species of wildlife not found anywhere else on earth.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Located in the Guadalupe Mountains east of El Paso, this park offers deserts, canyons, gypsum sand dunes, and spectacular views of the night sky and Milky Way. There are hiking trails ranging in difficulty and time constraints, as well as campsites, horseback riding paths, and stargazing opportunities at a nearby observatory.