Do you want to visit a national park but don’t like crowds? Even in today’s environment, America’s national parks can be more crowded than you’d like. Instead, why not visit one of the least visited segments of the National Park System? In fact, did you know that some remote U.S. national parks are reached only by boat or airplane?

Channel Islands National Park

Ventura, CA  93001
(805) 658-5730

Located off the Southern California coast near Ventura, the Channel Islands are nicknamed the Galapagos of North America. To illustrate, it’s an archipelago of eight islands and a marine protected area with a diverse collection of flora and fauna. In fact, 23 species have been identified as endemic or unique to the islands. For instance, the Channel Islands spotted skunk, island scrub jay and Santa Cruz sheep.

Visitor Centers

Visitor centers are in Santa Barbara and Ventura. However, this remote national park itself can only be accessed by boat or plane. Public boat transportation from Ventura is available through the park’s concessionaire Island Packers. No-frills camping is still available year-round on five of the eight islands. Be that as it may, you must have advanced reservations for any of the campgrounds.

Related: Alternative Transportation In San Francisco

Aerial view of Dry Tortugas National Park off the coast of Florida
Dry Tortugas (credit: National Park Service, Facebook)

Dry Tortugas National Park

Key West, FL  33041
(305) 242-7700

Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Dry Tortuga is one of America’s most remote national parks. In fact, it’s 70 miles west of Key West. What’s more, it’s the furthest of the Florida Keys and home to the Civil War-era Fort Jefferson. Extending across 64,000 acres, the park has an abundance of marine life, particularly its ever present sea turtles. For recreation, you can snorkel or scuba dive. If that’s not enough, you can also swim, kayak and sportfis. Boat and seaplane charter services are currently operating from Key West. Additionally, no-frills camping is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Guaranteed Camping

All arriving campers are guaranteed a place to camp. Campsites have a nightly fee of $15 and group camping is $30.

Related: Best Hiking Destinations On The Pacific Coast

Everglades National Park

40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL  33034
(305) 242-7700

Florida’s Everglades is the largest subtropical wetland ecosystem in North America. Moreover, it’s home to endangered species like the manatee and the alligator. By all means, you can visit Everglades by car. On the other hand, that’s only a mere fraction of the park. Indeed, you  should see the remote section by airboat. Everglades is open year-round and has three entrances. This includes the main entrance in Homestead. In addition to boating, Everglades is popular for biking, hiking, birdwatching, fishing and camping. If you wish to frontcountry camp, you can make  reservations Everglades Guests Services. Lastly, wilderness camping requires a permit and most are accessible only by boat.

Related: Shoeless Joe Jackson Attractions

Isle Royale National Park

Houghton, MI  49931
(906) 482-0984

Comprised of hundreds of islands within Lake Superior, Isle Royale is a hidden treasure. This remote national park near the Canadian border covers 894 acres, mostly in water. Transportation via boat or seaplane to the main island is in Houghton and Copper Harbor Michigan. Additionally, you can take a boat from Grand Portage, Minnesota. Some of the park’s docks are seasonal but camping remains open. Isle Royale is popular for outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, hiking and scuba diving. On the main island of Isle Royale are 36 campsites accessible only by boat or by foot. You will need a camping permit regardless of size of the party. Overnight boaters can dock for free but must obtain a permit. Either way, it’s well worth the trek.

Related: Amazing Hotel Swimming Pools

Voyageurs National Park

360 Highway 11 East
International Falls, MN  56649
(218) 283-6600

Named after early European settlers, Voyageurs straddles the Canadian border in northern Minnesota. Extending across nearly 200,00 acres, 40 percent of this remote national park is water. While parking is available at visitor centers, Voyageurs is mostly accessible only by boat. Visitors centers may be closed through 2020. But the park and a ranger station are expected to remain open year-round. Guided tours are currently available as are chartered tour boats. Other popular activities include hiking, canoeing and world-class fishing. No entrance fees are required although there are fees for tent campsites. More than 270 campsites are located within the national park. Reservations for campsites are required in advance. Fees are also administered for houseboats, sailboats and cabin cruisers. It’s a perfect spot to set your Coleman sundome!

Related: Family-Friendly Campsites

About The Author

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget and He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.


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