I was very surprised when I learned that North Cascades, a National Park we really like, is one of the least visited. The issue is accessibility. It’s easy to get to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, but North Cascades is not especially close to any Interstates. It’s 50 miles to I-5 going west from North Cascades, but the only highway going towards it from I-5 is 2-laned Highway 20. Going east there are no north-south Interstates until Montana. People perceive North Cascades as remote and lacking interest when the opposite is true. It’s beautiful and exists in 2 sections, Like Saguaro in Arizona.
Ruth & I have been to 6 of the 10 least visited National Parks and Monuments, and we have no regrets about going to any of them. Grand Staircase-Escalante is largely in Utah and a huge National Monument of more than a million acres. Few people venture into it. We have seen it only from a distance.
Lassen Volcanic is a National Park in northern California. Among its many attractions, which do not include hoards of visitors, are some Yellowstone-like hot springs.
The Parashant National Monument is on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon. It attracts only 18,000 visitors per year so far, and parts of it have never been explored. About the size of Grand Canyon National Park, Parashant was not created until the year 2000 and remains somewhat unknown. It’s said to be quite beautiful.
We love the Mohave National Preserve. Its almost 1.6 million acres in size and contains a declassified train Station at Kelso that is now a visitor center. Its Joshua tree forest is the largest on the entire planet. Unlike Parashant, there are many paved roads in Mojave National Park to explore; but it’s not a good idea to see them on a summer afternoon.
Katmi National Park & Reserve is in Alaska at the top of the Alaska Peninsula that develops into the Aleutian Islands further west. The popular fishing spot called King Salmon sits near its border. Katmi is known for its brown bear population.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is in Colorado and a breathtaking place near the town of Montrose. I love the name of the spot at the end of one 3 mile trail. It’s called Exclamation Point. Ruth & I were enjoying a view of the canyon far below one time when a young man in charge of a group of children climbed over the railing and hopped to a towering vantage point. I had to leave in case one of his charges tried to follow him.
Gates of the Arctic National Park sees few visitors when compared to, say, Zion National Park. The problem is getting there. One time we were in Alaska and decided to go to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. We had taken the ferry to Valdez and seen the southern terminus of the Alaska Pipeline and were on Highway 4 at the time heading for Denali. We calculated the distance to Wrangell and abandoned our plan to go there this time and have not been back since.
We drove down to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the border between Arizona and Mexico. A large glass window in the visitor center had just been shattered. I asked about it and was told that illegal aliens passing through had broken it. Later we watched a drug bust involving several agents and a helicopter in a remote spot of the Monument. The Organ Pipe cacti were also interesting.
The Dry Tortogas National Park off the coast of Florida at the end of the Florida Keys is accessible by boat but sees few visitors. When I am asked if I’ve been there, I have to say, “No”, but I aspire to go.