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A Traveler's Guide to Often-Overlooked National Parks

Travel

Written by
Kathryn Smith

Adventurers, history buffs and anyone who prefers some space to breathe can steer clear from the itinerary of the typical traveler. Find solace at these lesser-known, trip-worthy national parks.

 

Dry Tortugas National Park

Location: Florida, near Key West

Activities: Beach camp, snorkel, bird watch

This cluster of islands is remote and only accessible by boat, but the marine life is impeccable and unmatched. With over 16 million bricks, Fort Jefferson attracts as an unfinished architectural masterpiece.

nationalparks.org/explore-parks/dry-tortugas-national-park

 

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Location: Oklahoma

Activities: Swim, boat, hike

Beauty is captured here, where mineral springs are abundant and nature reigns. Visitors are encouraged to relax and appreciate the plentiful resources that surround them.

nationalparks.org/explore-parks/chickasaw-national-recreation-area

 

Big Thicket National Preserve

Location: Texas

Activities: Hike, camp, canoe, kayak, bird watch

This preserve in southeast Texas is a harmonious fusion of ecosystems: meadow, blackwater swamp, pine and cypress forest and hardwood forest. The vast landscape covers 97,000 acres of protected, diverse habitats that converged during the last Ice Age.

nationalparks.org/explore-parks/big-thicket-national-preserve 

 

Congaree National Park

Location: South Carolina

Activities: Walk

This tranquil sanctuary is home to some of the tallest hardwoods and pines in the eastern United States, along with other diverse plant and animal life. The floodplain has extensive trails for scientific research or a relaxing stroll.

nationalparks.org/explore-parks/congaree-national-park

 

Manzanar National Historic Site

Location: California

Activities: Learn

Visit this remote site in the Sierra Nevada where World War II Japanese American internment camps were located in 1942. The rigid landscape and desolate valley provide an expansive, thought-provoking atmosphere. 

nationalparks.org/explore-parks/manzanar-national-historic-site 

 

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Location: West Virginia

Activities: Learn, walk

Located at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, where West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland collide, this park contains a collection of historical influence. Individuals such as Meriwether Lewis, George Washington and Frederick Douglass spent time in this area, central to anti-slavery movements and American railroad expansion.

nationalparks.org/explore-parks/harpers-ferry-national-historical-park 

 

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Location: Arizona

Activities: Camp, hike

Amid extreme heat in the Sonoran Desert, wildlife can still thrive. Here, you’ll find 26 species of cactus including the Organ Pipe cactus. Explore the wildlife of a desert climate and stargaze without distraction at night. 

nationalparks.org/explore-parks/organ-pipe-cactus-national-monument

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