America’s National Parks have never been more popular. Here's a handful where you can lose the crowds and enjoy yourself.
The Most Underrated National Parks in the Western U.S.
The criteria for the national parks and monuments on this list: – West of the Front Range of the Rockies – Receive less than 100,000 visitors per year – Epic, in some shape or form (no dinky roadside historic sites here)
With over 60% of the park covered in glacial ice, this is most definitely a mountaineer’s paradise.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska
"Over 100 miles worth of highway traverse the park, there’s also plenty of room for scenic drives, day hikes, and other fare of the average tourist." Jake Case
Featuring an expansive garden of hoodoos — pillars of rock dozens of feet tall — this is a geologic wonder and a day-hiker’s retreat.
Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona
"Floating like a ship on a sea of desert plains, the Chiricahua Mountains top over 9,000 feet, forming a literal island of cool forest above the arid lands below." Jake Case
A three-hour drive from Seattle, this park averages only 30,000 visitors per year — just 1 percent of the visitation of Olympic National Park.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
"93 percent of North Cascades is designated wilderness. Through most of the park, cars are not allowed, leaving North Cascades as a rugged, glacier-clad mountain range ripe for mountaineers and backpackers seeking solitude." Jake Case
In a desolate stretch of high-altitude scrub-forest in sits this lightly-visited park.
El Morro National Monument, New Mexico
"Inscription Rock is a sandstone wall that is the park's centerpiece because of the epic nature of the man-made carvings at the cliff’s base." Jake Case
This park sports an undulating wave of plateaus and canyons making a spectacular backdrop for the Native American ruins.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado
"Just a stone’s throw from the much more famous and popular Mesa Verde, Canyons of the Ancients definitely holds its own as an archaeological wonder." Jake Case