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Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite – most are familiar with these famous National Parks. But little do many know, there’s a whole bunch of other ones. 59 across America to be exact. And some of the lesser-known ones are just as beautiful, and just as intriguing as the more popular ones. If you’re a nature buff, the following parks should definitely be on your radar for your next trip.
Petrified Forest National Park
Don’t let the name scare you (no pun intended), this forest located in Arizona is definitely a must-see. The park gets its name from all its ancient rock wood that look like little tree trunks, which are well over 200 million years old! In case you didn’t know, petrified wood is a fossil.
The Guadalupe Mountains
Once upon a time, the beautiful buttes of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park were down deep at the bottom of the ocean. Home to Texas, the limestone formations that characterize the park are actually a fossilized reef from over 260 million years ago. It’s a reef that was once over 400 miles long.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Located in California, Lassen Peak is full of volcanic activity below the surface. But not to worry, there’s plenty of interesting effects happening above ground as well. Steaming land, volcanic vents, and bubbling water pools are what draw tons of tourists here each year.
The Great Sand Dunes
Formed out of a lake over 440,000 years ago, the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado boast some of the tallest sand dunes in North America. Additionally, there are six different insect species that call the dunes home, along with hundreds of different animal species as well. Some people come here to even sand board or sled their way down the dunes.
Aniakchak National Park
Hard to pronounce, and hard to visit, Aniakchak is for those die-hard National Park people as it’s located all the way in Alaska. The weather is extreme, but so is Aniakchak – which is a volcano – that is still very much active. It’s a park definitely not for the faint of heart, as only a few dozen visitors make it out each year.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Found in Florida, Dry Tortugas National Park is made of seven little islands all located about 70 miles from the Key West Coast. Reachable by plane or boat, this park is rarely packed with visitors. This park is really the ruins of Fort Jefferson that was constructed back in the 19th century, around the time of the Civil War.
Voyageurs National Park
If you’re going to be visiting Minnesota anytime soon, make sure to visit Voyageurs National Park. It contains the Kabetogama Peninsula, which is only reachable by boat. It’s its big body of water that makes this park known for having some of the best kayaking and canoeing in the country.
Buffalo National River
Located in Arkansas, not Buffalo, this is the fist river declared to be a National River back in 1972. The reason being is that developers wanted to turn in into a dam, but the government deemed the stream and surrounding area to be too precious. Once you see its crystal clear waters, verdant forests, and striking bluffs – you’ll know why.
Great Basin National Park
This park in the heart of Nevada is a recreation lovers dream. Here in Great Basin National Park, you can explore a cave, climb a 13,000-foot mountain, or backpack to the alpine lakes and visit the high desert. But it’s main attraction is the Lehman caves (pictured here).
Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park can be found in South Carolina. The park spans well over 26,000 acres of 75 different species of trees. It’s also got over 30 miles of spectacular picturesque hiking trails. But it’s charm is that this National Park has been untouched and looks the same as it did back in the 1500’s, where early settlers once passed through it.