Avoid the Crowds at These Under-the-radar National Parks

April 23, 2024

Some national parks in the U.S. and Canada don’t have public access roads, turning these under-the-radar parks into real once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The crowds can’t reach them, well, not easily anyway. Other non-crowded national parks do have drivable roads, but they are so far-flung that it takes some initiative to reach them. Bush plane, kayak, or dive into these remote wildernesses and become part of an exclusive group who have experienced these incredible park sights.

The Best North American National Parks for Avoiding Crowds

Mossy logs over a path in the rainforest.

1. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, British Columbia, Canada

On a reflective paddle across the waters around Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve’s network of rainforest-filled islands, you can discover ancient First Nations village sites on the banks. The remote Canadian national park along British Columbia’s coastline is only accessible by sea or air, limiting the visitor access. But its natural beauty and cultural significance are well worth the effort to get there. Keep a look out for breaching whales, salmon-fishing bears, and the Haida people’s weather-aged pole carvings depicting spirits of land and sea.

Nearby KOAs
Lynden / Bellingham KOA Journey

Polar bear mother with two cubs, Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada.

2. Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada

In Manitoba’s sparsely populated northern reaches, Wapusk National Park sprawls along Hudson Bay’s arctic tundra wild shores. The park has no roads—effectively keeping visitation numbers low. However, the park’s main attraction is a huge draw—it’s the world’s largest polar bears birthing grounds. Licensed tour operators bring eager visitors to see the white bears hunt, play, and care for their new cubs. At night, the aurora borealis puts on a hauntingly-spectacular show in the sky.

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Winnipeg West KOA Journey

Beautiful landscape view of Lake Clark National Park near Port Alsworth in Alaska.

3. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska

With no roads in Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park, access to areas throughout the four-million-acre park is by bush plane or boat. A tranquil experience by land or waterway, the volcanic and glacial mountain peaks surrounding alpine lakes support wildlife and living off the land. Lake Clark’s fifty miles of pristine shoreline is prime brown bear viewing territory and provides a wealth of hunting and fishing opportunities. If going by way of Port Alsworth, hike the park’s only maintained trails to Tanalian Falls, Kontrashibuna Lake, and up Tanalian Mountain.

Nearby KOAs
Palmer / Anchorage North KOA Journey

Medicinal homeopathic plant. North Cascades National Park. Washington. USA

4. North Cascades National Park, Washington

White glacier-capped mountain peaks hug forested valleys throughout Washington’s North Cascades National Park. Access trails into the wilderness initiate from the park’s main route, North Cascade Highway 20, as it winds along Skagit River from Ross Lake. It’s easy to experience alone time amongst the misty evergreen forest trails in the alpine backcountry.

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Concrete / Grandy Creek KOA Holiday

A view of Fort Jefferson and the moat, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida.

5. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

The remote Dry Tortugas National Park at the tip of the Florida Keys is best experienced from the water. Almost all one hundred square mile park designation is marine protected coral reef habitat, with small islands sprinkled in. Take a ferry boat on a day trip to Garden Key, visit the historic 19th-century Fort Jefferson, and then get in the warm water for a swim. Be at one with the aquatic world of colorful tropical fish and sea turtles on a snorkel adventure of a lifetime.

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Sugarloaf Key / Key West KOA Resort

A petrified tree is in the foreground of a rock, high-desert landscape in Nevada's Great Basin National Park.

6. Great Basin National Park, Nevada

There’s more to the desert foothills around Great Basin National Park in Nevada than dusty sagebrush wilderness. Gain appreciation for the mountainous region on a scenic auto tour through the park. Then, discover a wondrous subterranean world deep inside Lehman caves where fantastical mineral formations abound. Stick around for nightfall in this international dark sky park for a stunning, life-affirming stargazing experience free from light pollution.

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Eva Barrows

Eva Barrows is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer. Eva writes about local places, people and events on her website She founded the online literary journal Imitation Fruit ( in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since.





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