I love Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks as much as the next person. All national parks send me through the roof, actually! But certain parks are much less well-known than others.
Although there are 59 national parks, I only hear about a handful of them. Here is a list of national parks just as worthy of visiting as Arches or Glacier National Parks. Some of these I have stumbled upon in my travels, and some are still on my bucket list. They’re about to be on your bucket lists, too!
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
I didn’t know this park existed until my friend insisted I visit it on my road trip out West. After a miserable night camping in the snow at Arches National Park, my boyfriend and I got out of there early and drove only thirty minutes to Canyonlands. When we arrived, it was still dark. Watching the sun rise in this park was one of the highlights of my three-week road trip. Doing so rejuvenated my spirits enough to continue on the trip instead of returning home.
- HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK
As an Arkansas native, I’m a big fan of Hot Springs. Unsurprisingly, this park is famous for its natural hot springs—47 hot springs, to be exact. Go into a bathhouse to bathe in the springs. There are many short hikes of various difficulties, as well as the 10-mile Sunset Trail. Fun fact: Hot Springs is Bill Clinton’s hometown!
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Joshua Tree National Park is in Southern California. In the park, you can walk in both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. You’ll see many strange things on your trip, including the famous Joshua trees, roadrunners, and maybe even a coyote at night!
- VIRGIN ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK
When I think of national parks, I don’t picture oceans. But Virgin Islands National Park is the perfect destination for travelers to snorkel, scuba dive, and beach hike. The park spans across two islands and over 5,000 acres of ocean, so there’s a lot to see. The most popular and scenic hiking path is Reef Bay Trail, which takes about six hours round-trip.
- MAMMOTH CAVE NATIONAL PARK
At this park in Kentucky, you can explore Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world. The main attraction are the cave tours. Guides lead different types of tours depending on the season. Check out the website to see what exciting tours are going on during your visit.