Since its founding on August 25, 1916, the U.S. National Park Service has assembled 419 protected units, of which 61 hold the coveted “national park” designation. To visit all 61 of these national treasures one would need to travel to 29 states and two U.S. territories. (Start planning a trip to national parks with our guides.)
While National Park Service units received a staggering 318.2 million recreational visitors last year, popularity comes at a cost. The service sometimes struggles to balance its roles of conserving natural (and cultural) heritage with providing recreational and educational opportunities to travelers from around the world. (Here are the top 10 most popular national parks.)
The most-visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, received 11 million visitors in 2018. But there are plenty of parks where animals greatly outnumber visitors, including Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska, where the ratio of caribou to humans was roughly 33 to one in 2018. Escape the crowds—but not the natural wonders—these ten least-visited national parks in the U.S.