5 Lesser Known National Parks Worth a Visit

We all love visiting national parks. Each year when national parks week rolls around we hear about all of the best-known national parks like Yellowstone National Park, Arches National Park, Yosemite National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park or Grand Canyon National Park. Those are all amazing parks but check out these lesser known national parks worth a visit.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Lesser Known National Parks Photo by Miguel Vieira

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, located east of El Paso, Texas offers hiking and recreational opportunities as well as many historical sites. The park is home to Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, as well as restored ranches and ruins of an old stagecoach station.

While you're in the area check out Carlsbad Caverns National Park located just 25 miles to the north.

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park Photo by Isabelle Acatauassu Alves Almeida

Located just off the shores of densely populated Southern California, Channel Islands National Park contains five of the eight Channel Islands. The islands only see about 30,000 visitors each year. These nearly untouched islands are home to nearly 2,000 species of plants and animals. Visitors can enjoy backpacking, camping, day hiking, scuba diving, spearfishing and/or sea kayaking through beautiful sea caves.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park Photo by Andrew Kearns

Dwarfed by Arizona's most famous national park, the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest National Park gives a fossilized look into the past. Petrified trees believed to be 225 million years old as well as early reptile and amphibian fossils are still being unearthed. Bring your camera and hiking boots for an adventure you won't forget.


Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park Photo by ESwift

Located in Central Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park is the nation's smallest national park (by area). The park contains hot springs and many different bath houses for visitors to enjoy the therapeutic waters. In addition to a good soak, there are miles of roads and trails to explore the nearby mountains for hikers, backpackers and sightseeing.

Congaree National Park

Conagree National Park Photo courtesy of the National Parks Service

Much smaller than its regional neighbor, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Congaree National Park is the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest remaining on the continent. The lush trees are among the tallest trees in the Eastern USA and they create the one of the highest temperate deciduous forest canopies in the world. From great hiking to amazing canoe trips, you'll have a blast exploring this lesser known national park.

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Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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