Each year, the National Park Service publishes a report that includes the number of visitors each park received the previous year. The numbers were so shocking to me. On average, about 330,000 people visit Times Square EACH DAY. We have 16 national parks that got less than that in all of 2015. Now, we avoid Times Square most days because of the sheer insanity and number of people, but it is crazy to compare those numbers side-by-side.
We wanted to highlight a few of these less-visited parks and share with you what we would want to see or do while there. Maybe you'll find a place to add to your Summer bucket list or at least find a few new Instagram accounts to follow (the NPS accounts have the most beautiful pictures.)
Lake Clark, Alaska
Happy #NationalTrailsDay from the #TanalianFalls! While hiking opportunities are endless in the more remote areas of #LakeClarkNPS, the #TanalianTrails are located in the very heart of the park, and are the only maintained trail system in Lake Clark. Where will your next hike take you? #FindYourPark #HikeAlaska #NatureAlaska #ExploreAlaska #TravelAlaska
Feel like getting away from everything? This is your place. It is a backcountry park only accessible by foot, plane or boat. You can spot bears fishing for Salmon, a backdrop of volcanoes and mountains and lots of peace & quiet. In 2015, it only saw 17,818 visitors - that's only an average of 48 per day in a park that is about the same size as all the Hawaiian Islands put together.
Isle Royale, Michigan
The park's trail crew has been busy clearing trees that fell over the park's trails this previous winter and fall - and capturing the stark moments of #spring, like this shot from the Stoll Memorial Trail. Thanks to @spikora for sharing. Use #isleroyalenps on Instagram for a chance to be featured! #npscentennial#findyourpark #isrotrailcrew #puremichigan
This is a secluded island in Lake Superior. It is part of Michigan, but is actually a little closer to my home state of Minnesota. There are 3 different ferry options, but my suggestion would be to come from Minnesota and also check out the beautiful North Shore and Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Once on the island, you have the option of camping or staying in one of the few hotels. There are tons of trails, wildlife and even scuba diving to try out. This park only hosted 18,684 visitors last year, so it's a great place to escape.
North Cascades, Washington
This park is only a few hours north of Seattle and a place to enjoy year-round. There are beautiful mountains, lots of water to explore and even the town of Stehekin. This is a fairly large park making up almost 800 square miles and has lots of options for hiking and getting some incredible views. This park is high on our list of places to visit because the landscape of the PNW is absolutely breathtaking. I was shocked that this park only saw 20,677 visitors last year.
Dry Tortugas, Florida
We've been dreaming about a Florida Keys road trip for a few years now and after reading about this park, I know this will be added to the itinerary. You can jump on a ferry and head to this secluded group of islands to enjoy some incredible snorkeling, camping and exploring Fort Jefferson. This park saw 70,862 visitors last year, which is still less than 200 people each day. Just imagine the star gazing you could do outside your tent here.
Black Canyon of the Gunnsion, Colorado
If you're looking for steep cliffs and quiet overlooks, this park may be a better option for you than that giant famous canyon we all know about. This park isn't very large, but provides some of the oldest rocks and steepest cliffs in North America. The walls of the canyon are 2,000 feet high in some places and you are able to hike on the north and south rim. If adventurous and intense are more your thing, there are rock climbing opportunities as well as some unmaintained trails with lots of warnings (included unavoidable poison ivy.) Since this park is a little closer to some other big hitters, this one did see a little more than 200,000 visitors last year.
Your Local IMAX Theater
I don't know about you, but I don't have the entire summer off to explore all these awesome places. Our goal is to hit at least one or two more national parks this year, but I'm definitely not going to miss the IMAX movie narrated by Robert Redford. Check out the trailer:
Which National Park is your favorite? Are you out this year helping them celebrate their 100 year anniversary?
To browse the reports and see where we got our numbers, check out the website: https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/Reports/Park