Attendance, as a complete, was up considerably at U.S. nationwide parks final yr.
The Nationwide Park Service has launched its closing attendance numbers for 2021, and that information exhibits greater than 297 million folks visited U.S. nationwide parks final yr. That’s a 60 million-visit enhance over the 237 million visits logged at nationwide parks in 2020.
Contemplating that folks seemed for outside actions the place they might distance themselves from others through the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, it isn’t too shocking that in 2021, six nationwide parks broke visitation information, in response to the Nationwide Park Service (NPS). It’s additionally value noting that 11 nationwide parks logged greater than 5 million guests in 2021.
Then again, not all nationwide parks noticed a surge in attendance. Because the NPS notes, 25 p.c of all visits to U.S. nationwide parks had been to the highest eight most-visited parks — that’s simply 2 p.c of all parks within the Nationwide Park System. Moreover, half of all visits to U.S. nationwide parks in 2021 had been to the highest 25 most-visited parks.
“It’s fantastic to see so many People persevering with to search out solace and inspiration in these unimaginable locations through the second yr of the pandemic,” Chuck Sams, director of the NPS, mentioned in a press release. “We’re pleased to see so many guests returning to iconic parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, however there are lots of extra that ought to be on everybody’s bucket checklist.”
The excellent news is that when you’re on the lookout for a real getaway the place you received’t encounter crowds, the NPS information additionally highlights nationwide parks that logged low visitation numbers. Curiously, six of these nationwide parks are in distant areas in Alaska.
Let’s get proper to it. Listed here are final yr’s high 10 least-visited U.S. nationwide parks.
10. Glacier Bay Nationwide Park And Protect
In 2021, 89,768 folks visited Glacier Bay Nationwide Park and Protect, in response to the NPS information.
Right here’s one motive why these numbers had been low: Glacier Bay, which is west of Juneau, Alaska, can solely be reached by airplane or boat. As you’d count on, most individuals who go to the park achieve this between Might and September. That’s as a result of the park is open the remainder of the yr as properly, however customer providers are extraordinarily restricted out of season.
The individuals who do go to the park clarify that the go to is properly well worth the journey. In spite of everything, Glacier Bay options 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coast, and fjords. One of many highlights for any go to is watching the humpback whales that go to the feeding grounds each summer time.
9. Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park
In 2021, 83,817 folks visited Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park, which is about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida.
Dry Tortugas Nationwide Park, a 100-square mile park, is generally made up of open water — though it additionally contains seven small islands. The park, which is barely accessible by boat or seaplane, is a diver’s paradise as a result of its colourful coral reefs and crystal-clear water is dwelling to quite a few species of fish, lobsters, sponges, sea stars, and anemones. It’s additionally dwelling to Fort Jefferson, a Nineteenth-century fort initially supposed to guard the Gulf Coast and jap seaboard delivery lanes.
8. Wrangell-St. Elias Nationwide Park And Protect
Wrangell-St. Elias, with its 13.2 million acres, is America’s largest nationwide park. Because the NPS notes, it’s the identical measurement as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland mixed.
Curiously, the Wrangell and St. Elias ranges comprise among the largest volcanoes and highest focus of glaciers in North America. What’s extra, hundreds of lava flows and among the highest peaks in North America are discovered within the Wrangell Volcanic Subject. It even contains Mount Wrangell, one of many largest energetic volcanoes on this planet.
In 2021, 50,189 folks visited Wrangell-St. Elias.
7. Isle Royale Nationwide Park
A visit to Isle Royale Nationwide Park is sort of a dream come true for individuals who love wilderness. That’s as a result of the park has wolf and moose populations, the deep North Woods forest, and funky climate that may change in a heartbeat, all set on the rugged shoreline of Lake Superior.
Right here’s why Isle Royale is so distant and wild. The park really is a freshwater archipelago that features Isle Royale — the biggest island in Lake Superior — and greater than 400 smaller islands as properly. Isle Royale, which is barely accessible by ferry, seaplane, or personal boat, has 165 miles of scenic mountaineering trails and 36 campgrounds utilized by backpackers and paddlers.
In 2021, simply 25,844 folks made the trek to Isle Royale Nationwide Park.
6. Katmai Nationwide Park And Protect
Katmai could also be open year-round however the distant spot is just not accessible by automotive. As an alternative, guests have to fly some 300 miles by way of business airplane from Anchorage, or they will make the journey on a personal or chartered boat.
Right here’s how 24,764 folks visited Katmai final yr. There are lots of of miles of rivers and streams within the park, which is made up of greater than 4 million acres. Katmai can also be dwelling to a excessive variety of brown bears, so it’s an excellent place to check the bears. It stands to motive that there are such a lot of bears; the park can also be recognized for an necessary spawning and rearing floor for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon.
5. Lake Clark Nationwide Park And Protect
One other nationwide park in Alaska accessible solely by airplane or boat, Lake Clark is positioned north of Katmai and about 120 air miles southwest of Anchorage. Like Katmai, Lake Clark is thought for its brown bear and Bristol Bay sockeye salmon populations. The rugged park can also be recognized for its bird-watching alternatives as a result of 187 totally different species have been documented within the space.
In 2021, 18,278 folks went to Lake Clark, primarily to go to Crescent Lake. That space is thought for its excellent fishing and bear watching alternatives. The bears and people alike fish for sockeye and silver salmon.
4. North Cascades Nationwide Park
North Cascades could solely be about 3 hours from Seattle nevertheless it’s nonetheless distant and rugged. In reality, the park is thought for its jagged peaks, greater than 300 glaciers, and water operating by means of closely forested valleys.
The park is a haven for hikers, backpackers, and wilderness mountaineers as a result of it hyperlinks Washington’s inside wilderness with the Cascade Mountain Vary. North Cascades can also be recognized for its chook and wildlife watching, tenting, biking, boating, and fishing for 5 salmon species in addition to steelhead and cutthroat trout.
Final yr 17,855 folks visited North Cascades.
3. Kobuk Valley Nationwide Park
There’s no different approach to put this: Kobuk Valley may be very distant. Merely attending to the park requires a collection of airplane journeys. What’s extra, there aren’t any roads, entrance gates, or campgrounds, and Kobuk Valley, which is open year-round, doesn’t even provide any providers.
In 2021, 11,540 folks visited Kobuk. These guests tended to be “expert backcountry explorers accustomed to surviving wind, rain, and snow — and that’s in the summertime months,” the NPS explains. “Winter visits are beneficial just for open air folks skilled in arctic tenting and winter survival strategies. For guests with the appropriate expertise and equipment, it’s a visit of a lifetime.”
2. Nationwide Park Of American Samoa
Nationwide Park of American Samoa will not be in Alaska, nevertheless it’s equally distant for most individuals. Positioned within the U.S. territory American Samoa, the park is roughly 2,600 air miles southwest of Hawaii.
In 2021, simply 8,495 folks visited the Nationwide Park of American Samoa. Nonetheless, one motive for that low quantity was journey restrictions to American Samoa and Hawaii that had been in place as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the park’s guests journey there for diving and snorkeling alternatives. In reality, the American Samoa islands are dwelling to greater than 950 species of fish and greater than 250 species of corals.
1. Gates Of The Arctic Nationwide Park And Protect
By now, it most likely isn’t shocking to see that the least-visited U.S. nationwide park in 2021 can also be in Alaska.
Final yr, simply 7,362 folks visited Gates of the Arctic, an 8.4-million-acre wilderness that, as you’d count on, doesn’t have roads or trails. Most of these guests entry the park by air taxi, nevertheless, others do hike in from the Dalton Freeway or from the village of Anaktuvuk Move.
On the one hand, guests are in a position to watch rivers go by means of valleys carved by glaciers and caribou herds as they migrate. Then once more, guests “will need to have the data and expertise to be really self-sufficient within the distant location and demanding local weather and terrain of the Brooks Vary,” the NPS explains.
The upside is that guests who’re ready for “one of many final really wild locations on earth” will discover alternatives for “recreation, and for pure quiet, solitude, and wilderness enjoyment,” the NPS notes.