The year 2016 marked the third straight year that the US National Parks set a record for attendance. This is great news, as more and more people are visiting our national wonders, but it also puts pressure on resources, roads, wildlife, and staff.

The federal government is currently under a hiring freeze which is greatly impacting the national parks as they prepare for the summer season. While the full effects won’t be known until later, it could lead to a shortage of staff at parks across the country.

Here is a simple idea to show support for the parks and yet help alleviate the pressures of tourism:

  • Visit lesser known parks during peak summer season
  • Visit the major parks during the spring, fall or winter

Here is a list of US national parks that can be sorted by daily visits. As you can see, places like Olympic receive over three million annual visitors while nearby North Cascades receives only 20,000 visitors a year, making it one of the least visited in the country. Yellowstone gets more visitors in a day than Isle Royale gets in a year!

Below is a list of the most visited parks with a nearby alternative

Instead of Yosemite, visit Lassen Volcanic

Instead of the Grand Canyon South Rim, visit the North Rim

Instead of Zion or Bryce Canyon, visit Capital Reef

Instead of Kenai Fjords, visit Glacier Bay

Instead of Canyonlands or Arches, visit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Instead of Denali visit Wrangell-St. Elias

Instead of Joshua Tree, visit Big Bend  and/or Guadalupe Mountains

Guadalupe Mountains National Park – Source

Instead of Acadia, consider the many excellent state parks in Vermont

Instead of Sequoia, visit Great Basin

Instead of Rocky Mountain, visit Great Sand Dunes

Instead of Olympic or Glacier, visit North Cascades

Instead of Yellowstone, visit Badlands

Badlands National Park – Source

Do you have any other off-the-beaten path parks you’d like to recommend?

We recently asked our Facebook followers to tell us their favorite lesser-known parks. Click here to see the responses.

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