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, 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