10. Virgin Islands National Park
Virgin Islands National Park, a pristine tropical reserve covering almost two-thirds of St. John and 5,650 acres underwater, saw 133,398 visitors in 2019.
Since its founding on August 25, 1916, the U.S. National Park Service has assembled 419 protected units, of which 62 hold the “national park” designation. To visit all 63 of these treasures one would need to travel to 29 states and two U.S. territories.
But with so many national parks to visit, there are trails, craters, and lakeshores that can be explored responsibly and without crowds. How remote and uncrowded are these parks? Katmai National Park’s Aniakchak caldera is so remote that many park rangers have never visited its volcanic crater. At Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska, quadrupeds greatly outnumber bipeds (or at least humans); the ratio of caribou to humans was roughly 33 to one in 2018.
The annual recreational visitor count for all National Park Service (NPS) units increased by some 9 million—from 318.2 million in 2018 to over 327.5 million in 2019. According to Pam Ziesler, who tracks and coordinates NPS visitors statistics, many national parks are still behind in reporting their 2019 visitor statistics (likely due to complications with COVID-19 park closures, staffing disruptions, wildfires, and seasonal hurricanes). Lists of most- and least-visited parks are subject to change.
Here are 10 of the nation’s least-visited national parks parks where travelers can avoid the people—but not the natural wonders.