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.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
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.
Big Thicket National Preserve
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.
Congaree National Park
Location: South Carolina
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.
Manzanar National Historic Site
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.
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.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
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.