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INSUBUY® Insurance Blog

5 Underrated US National Parks, and Why You Should Visit Them

Posted: 01/04/20232,375 Views

Although summer may seem far away at the moment, the 2023 vacation season will be here before you know it. And with more people than ever expected to take to the roads and airports, a US national park might sound like the perfect vacation destination. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy some fresh air, beautiful views, and peace and quiet?

The trouble is, you might not find the solitude you’re looking for at many of the most popular national parks. Places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite can be positively packed during the peak season, with throngs of tourists clogging up park roads, overcrowding visitor centers, and blocking your view of the best attractions.

Luckily, there’s no reason to battle it out with fellow vacationers for your own piece of paradise. There are over 400 different parks in the US National Park system. All you have to do is choose one of the less-visited ones. You’ll get the same great atmosphere and experiences, just without the distractions. 

Here are our top five picks (in no particular order) of the best under-the-radar US national parks to visit in 2023.

1. Wrangell-St Elias National Park

If you want to get away from it all, there’s no better place to do it than in the largest national park in the United States. Wrangell-St Elias National Park covers an astounding 13 million acres (it’s larger than nine US states), yet sees fewer than 80,000 visitors per year. Yes, it will involve a trip to south central Alaska, but those who make the trek will be rewarded in spades. The park’s high point – Mount Saint Elias – stands over 18,000 feet tall, putting any peak in the contiguous US to shame. While there, you can catch glimpses of grizzly bears, timber wolves, caribou, and mountain goats, just to name a few species. There are few wild expanses like Wrangell-St Elias National Park left on earth, and it’s well worth the trip to experience it once.

2. Redwood National and State Parks

Northern California is full of grand national parks, and the tourists know it. Luckily, Redwood National Park doesn’t get so much attention; though it certainly deserves more. Tucked away in the far northern part of the state, this 138,000-acre park contains almost half of the remaining coastal redwood trees in the world. These giants of the forest create an ethereal atmosphere to explore, whether you’re hiking, or driving along the Scenic Parkway of Newton B Drury. Those interested in coastal camping will absolutely love Gold Bluffs Beach, and hikers are sure to delight on trails like Miner’s Ridge Trail and the Coastal Trail. However, despite the fact that this is one of the least visited national parks in the US, facilities are limited. You’ll want to reserve your campsite well in advance.

3. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The state of Ohio may not be the first that comes to mind when you think of national parks in the USA to visit, but Cuyahoga Valley National Park may surprise you. It might lack the jagged peaks and coastal views of more well-known locales, but it more than makes up for it with its singular Midwestern beauty. Surrounded by lush farmland and rolling hills, this natural oasis in the Cuyahoga Valley is perfect for hiking, fishing, or just communing with nature. You can even rent a bike and explore the Cuyahoga Valley Towpath Trail. Best of all, this park is conveniently close to the major city of Cleveland, making it an easy day trip. 

4. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

When you picture rugged mountains, arid desert landscapes, and a hiking utopia, you may think of Arizona or New Mexico. But why not Texas? Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas is home to eight of the 10 peaks in the state, including its highest one, Guadalupe Peak, which reaches 8,751 feet. Adventurous types can make the strenuous climb to the top of the peak, but this 86,000-acre national park has far more to offer than that. See native flora and fauna in the Chihuahuan Desert landscape, visit historic Wallace Pratt Lodge, or take a break at the Pine Springs Visitor Center. Just bring plenty of water if you decide to visit in the summer, as temperatures can be scorching.

5. Badlands National Park

The stark landscape of Badlands National Park can seem almost otherworldly. This 242,000-acre expanse in South Dakota is defined by its eroded buttes and pinnacles, putting millennia of geological history on display for all to see. It almost feels like you’re on Mars. Besides the landscape itself, the stargazing here is also out of this world, and the protected wilderness portion of the park is the only place where you can see the black-footed ferret; one of the most endangered animals on earth. Whether you’re camping, hiking, or just sightseeing by car, Badlands National Park will provide views that you simply can’t get anywhere else.

US National Parks Insurance

Regardless of which US national park you decide to visit, it’s essential that you have the right insurance coverage when you do.

If you’re traveling to the US from another country, or you have family coming to visit you in the USA from abroad, be sure to buy visitors medical insurance. Healthcare in the United States is extremely expensive, and insurance from other countries will not be accepted or sufficient here. All it takes is one slip and fall on a hike, or an unexpected illness, and you could be stuck with a hospital bill that you can’t afford to pay. Regardless of your age or physical condition, it’s not worth taking the chance. Get visitors medical insurance so you can have access to quality healthcare in the USA for a predictable price.

If you’re visiting a US national park domestically, travel insurance coverage is what you need. It’s designed to be able to reimburse you for applicable expenses if you need to cancel, delay, or interrupt your trip for a covered reason. It can also provide coverage for lost or delayed luggage, and even emergency medical care, in case your trip takes you outside of your healthcare provider’s network, or as valuable secondary coverage.

Finally, if you plan on participating in a high-risk activity that may not be covered by standard travel insurance while visiting a US national park, you should consider hazardous sports travel insurance. It can provide coverage for a range of extreme sports such as rock climbing and whitewater rafting, all depending upon the plan you choose.

With the right insurance on your side, you can visit any national park or other tourist attraction in the USA with confidence and complete peace of mind.

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