5 Hidden Gem National Parks

5 Hidden Gem National Parks

by Jen Ball

Hey. I’m Jen. The Lead Designer here at Keep Nature Wild. Proud nature lover and National Park Enthusiast. (Okay, fine, I’m a National Park snob. A proud one. Don’t hold it against me.)

I’ve been to 27 National Parks, and my goal is to hit each and every one at least once!

When it comes to National Parks, everybody knows about the classics: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, etc. They’re famous for a reason. From jaw-dropping mountain vistas to take-your-breath-away views, those parks have captured hearts for generations. They’re beautiful, raw, huge, and timeless.

While those bigger parks are stunning and will continue to be some all-time favorites, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lesser-known national parks this year. The hidden gems. The ones that carry unique charm, host quieter trails, and, let’s be honest, have much, much easier parking.

I put together a list of my current Top 5 Hidden Gem National Parks. Whether you’re a parks snob like me or just love getting out into nature, I recommend adding these to your bucket list!

North Cascades National Park

1. North Cascades National Park, Washington

With breathtaking scenic drives, crystal clear glacier-fed lakes, gorgeous green conifers, snowcapped mountain peaks, and that classic PNW vibe, this should be near the top of your list. I'd live here if I could. Plus, it's only about 3 hours from Seattle (and Vancouver, Canada), so this makes for the perfect road trip destination after sight seeing in the city!

Find more info on North Cascades here →


Cuyahoga Valley National Park

2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

What I love about Cuyahoga is how accessible it is. Tucked between downtown Cleveland and downtown Akron, you can take a quick drive from the city and go to a park that makes you feel like you’re miles away from civilization. With the winding river that travels through the park, waterfalls, and beautiful trails, this is a must-add to your list – especially if you live in Ohio!

Find more info on Cuyahoga Valley here →


Shenandoah National Park

3. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

What I love about Shenandoah is how peaceful it is compared to others. Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, you’ll find cozy wooded hikes with stunning lookouts to the mountains. You have the trails primarily to yourself. Plus, there’s one skyline drive that you can take and go straight through the park. You may even catch a few thru-hikers along the Appalachian Trail. Don’t forget to cheer them on!

Find more info on Shenandoah here →


Crater Lake National Park

4. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

As its name might suggest, this park is home to a lake. But not just any lake. It’s the deepest in the US - and one of the top ten deepest in the world! There’s something truly awe-inspiring about the water there. And bonus, because it’s a more remote park, it’s not very busy, which means gorgeous hikes around the rim are more enjoyable and peaceful.

Fun fact: Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only trail that provides access to Crater Lake’s shore. Bundle up because the average water temp is only about 40- 60°F.

Find more info on Crater Lake here →


Lassen Volcanic

Photo by Alex Moliski

5. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Okay, confession. I’ve never been to this one. My husband and I were going to go, but we had to cancel due to wildfires! So, definitely be sure to plan your trip accordingly. This one often gets overlooked because California is home to so many other iconic parks. With some of the most diverse landscapes of any national park, including volcanoes, bubbling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, gorgeous mountains, and lakes – Lassen Volcanic will take your breath away at every corner.

Find more info on Lassen Volcanic here →

So there you have it, friends. 5 hidden gem national parks that you should absolutely add to your bucket list!

Happy adventuring!




Banner photo credit: by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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