There are more than 420 sites in the National Park System, but only 63 carry the headliner — capital N, capital P — “National Park” title, according to CNN.
The most visited of those, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, welcomed a record-setting 14 million recreation visits in 2021. Zion, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are other top visitor draws. See full lists of the most popular National Park Service sites here.
But what about the least-visited headliners? Parks that might be especially wild or hard to reach but also uncrowded and largely undiscovered. Let’s take a peek at those.
Seven out of the 15 least-visited national parks in 2021 are in Alaska.
It’s no big surprise that a good chunk of the least-visited national parks are in the 49th state. Covering close to 665,000 square miles — much of it wild and often frozen — getting around the state can be challenging and there’s a lot of wilderness to see.
The least visited of the 63 national parks, Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, contains no roads or trails and visitors must fly or hike into the park, according to the National Park Service.
It’s safe to say the people who accounted for its 7,362 recreation visits in 2021 were very committed to a wilderness experience. Denali National Park in Alaska, No. 13 among the least-visited parks, saw a whopping 229,521 visits by comparison.