The National Park Service, established in 1916 to preserve America’s most treasured lands, protects 58 different parks across the nation. And while the more popular national parks – Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yosemite – have their draw, with millions of visitors attending each year, there are dozens of other majestic oases of natural beauty. These landmarks with the fewest visitors are some of the nation’s best-undiscovered gems.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Located just a few hours outside of Seattle, it may come as a surprise that this national park only receives 20,000 visitors a year. Extending north into Canada’s Skagit Valley Provincial Park, the North Cascades National Park is known for its mountain trails, pine-studded landscape, and glistening lakes. Plus, with over 300 glaciers to explore, it calls to mountaineers and experienced backpackers, some who trek through the park on their way to the terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Access to the North Cascades is limited, with most arriving via Highway 20, which crosses at Ross Lake – a popular stop for boating, kayaking, and fishing.
North Cascades National Park, WA, USA, +1 360 854 7200
Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Congaree National Park, the largest intact stretch of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the US, once faced threats of deforestation. After a grassroots initiative was set in motion in the 1960s, a portion of the park was designated as protected wilderness; it was officially named a national park in 2003. Characterized by lush canopy roofs and sweeping rivers, the Congaree houses one of the highest temperate deciduous forests in the world. The grassy wetlands are best seen via canoe, where you just might catch a glimpse of a river otter or armadillo, or you can take a stroll along the Boardwalk Loop, a 2.4-mile-long path that plays host to less than 100,000 visitors a year.
Congaree National Park, 100 National Park Rd, Hopkins, SC, USA, +1 803 776 4396
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.