The 10 Least Visited U.S. National Parks

Find beauty without the crowds at these underrated parks

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

America's national parks are amongst the best outdoor landscapes found anywhere on the planet. Many of them feature breathtaking scenery and amazing wildlife encounters, which is why millions of people flock to those locations each and every year. Places like the Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone make classic adventure travel escapes suitable for the whole family, although during the high season they can certainly get very crowded. 

If you're looking for national parks that are decidedly less overrun, the National Park Service offers some suggestions on where to go—these are the ten least-visited parks as well, ranked in descending order by 2015 visitors. If you truly want to escape the crowds, here's where you should go.

  • 01 of 10

    Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Ohio

    Charles Young National Monument
    Courtesy of the National Park Service

    This relatively new Ohio national monument opened in 2013 to honor Colonel Charles Young and the Buffalo Soldiers – the famed group of African American troops who fought for nearly 80 years in various conflicts involving the U.S. The namesake colonel was the third African-American to graduate from West Point Military Academy and the first to serve as National Parks Superintendent, and a military officer with a long and respected career. The park provides tours of the home Young purchased with his wife Ada in 1907.

    Visitors in 2015: 3,993

  • 02 of 10

    Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, California

    Eugene O'Neil Historic Site
    National Park Service (Public Domain)

     The home of Eugene O'Neill—America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright—is located in Northern California, and was declared a national historic site to celebrate his achievements. O'Neill is responsible for such works as The Iceman Cometh and A Long Day's Journey into Night, but he isn't an especially big draw amongst travelers. The site sees less than 4000 visitors on an annual basis. 

    Visitors in 2015: 3,942

  • 03 of 10

    Nicodemus National Historic Site, Kansas

    Nicodemus National Park Schoolhouse
    Courtesy of the National Park Service

    Following the end of the Civil War, thousands of former slaves left the south and began heading west. Some settled in Kansas, where the Nicodemus National Historic Site celebrates their contribution towards expanding the American frontier. African Americans played a crucial role in opening the west, but sadly few visitors stop by this site to recognize their contribution. The site is amongst the least visited in all of the U.S. National Parks. 

    Visitors in 2015: 3,306

  • 04 of 10

    Clara Barton National Historic Site, Maryland

    Clara Barton National Historic Park
    National Park Service (Public Domain)

    Named for the founder of the American Red Cross, this National Historic Site preserves the massive structure that became the storehouse and headquarters for the organization at the turn of the century. At the park, visitors can tour the home (built in 1891) and learn about the life and achievements of Barton herself. 

    Visitors in 2015: 2,823

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska

    Lake Kuzitrin at Bering Bridge National Park
    Courtesy of the National Park Service

    The state of Alaska has some of the most remote parks in the entire U.S. system, and amongst them is the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. This wild region features numerous hot springs and other geothermal activity, and is home to muskox and large herds of caribou too. It is an unspoiled wilderness that was once part of a strip of land that connected North America to Asia, allowing plants, animals, and early humans to pass back and forth between those land masses. Today, it is seldom seen by anyone. 

     Visitors in 2015: 2,642

  • 06 of 10

    Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania

    Thaddeus Kusciuszko Hous
    Courtesy of the National Park Service

    A mere 1,261 people took the opportunity to visit the Thaddeus Kosciusko National Memorial in 2014. Those that did take the time to stop by learned about one of the lesser known founding fathers of the United States who helped devise some of the more successful fortifications used during the Revolutionary War. Kosciusko may not be as well known as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, but he still played a vital role in winning American freedom. 

    Visitors in 2015: 1,261

  • 07 of 10

    Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska

    Kandik River mouth in Yukon Charley National Reserve
    Courtesy of the National Park System

    Another remote wilderness, the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve marks the merging of two important waterways in the Alaskan interior. The park remains largely unexplored to this day, although visitors do witness impressive displays of wildlife, breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, and the remains of towns that sprung up during the gold rush era, only to vanish when the rush ended. 

    Visitors in 2015: 1,133

  • 08 of 10

    Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument, California

    Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial
    Courtesy of the National Park System

    Located near San Francisco, the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument commemorates the worst homeland disaster for the United States during World War II. On July 17, 1944, 320 men were killed when two warships preparing to depart for the Pacific Theater blew up while being loaded with ordinance. Reservations are required to visit the site, as it still sits on an active military base. Perhaps that is why so few people make the effort to see this solemn place. 

    Visitors in 2015: 963

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, Alaska

    Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve
    Courtesy of the National Park System

    In 2015 no more than 153 people visited this remote wilderness that features a massive volcanic crater stretching six miles across. Known for its difficult and demanding weather, the park is only accessible by plane, and features a large number of bears and wolves as well. This is not a place for the faint of heart, or inexperienced in the wilderness, hence the reason it sees so few visitors on an annual basis. 

    Visitors in 2015: 153

  • 10 of 10

    Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, Texas

    Rio Grande National Park Wild and Scenic Section
    Courtesy of the National Park Service

    The 196-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River in Texas that has been designated as the Wild and Scenic section is so remote that just getting to the start of this whitewater playground can be an adventure. But those who make the journey are treated to rolling rapids that pass through deep canyons in the Chihuahuan Desert. The landscapes are beautiful, timeless, and provide the perfect escape for those looking to truly get away from it all.

    Visitors in 2015: 120