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 U.S. national parks can only be reached or best enjoyed by boat or airplane? Here are five for you to consider for your next summer getaway.
Please visit the National Park Service website for up-to-date information.
Channel Islands National Park
Ventura, CA 93001
Located off the Southern California coast near Ventura, the Channel Islands are nicknamed the Galapagos of North America. An archipelago of eight islands, marine protected area is home to a diverse collection of flora and fauna species. Of these, 23 have been identified as endemic or unique to the islands. Among these are the Channel Islands spotted skunk, island scrub jay and Santa Cruz sheep. Visitor centers are in Santa Barbara and Ventura but the park itself can only be accessed by boat or plane. Public boat transportation from Ventura is available through the park’s concessionaire Island Packers. Primitive camping is still available year-round on five of the eight islands. Advanced reservations are required for all campgrounds.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Key West, FL 33041
Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Dry Tortuga is one of America’s most remote national parks. Situated 70 miles west of Key West, the park is 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, the park is popular for snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking and sportfishing. Guided ranger tours are also currently being offered. Boat and seaplane charter services are currently operating from Key West. Additionally, primitive camping has reopened on a first-come, first-serve basis. All arriving campers are guaranteed a place to camp. Campsites have a nightly fee of $15 and group camping is $30.
Everglades National Park
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034
Encompassing 1.5 million acres, Florida’s Everglades is the largest subtropical wetland ecosystem in North America. Home to endangered species like the manatee and the alligator, Everglades can be accessed by car. However, only a mere fraction of the park can be enjoyed that way. It is recommended to see more of the park is by boat, particularly the famous airboats. Everglades is open year-round and has three entrances, including the main entrance in Homestead. In addition to boating, the park is popular for biking, hiking, birdwatching, fishing and camping. Frontcountry camping can be reserved through Everglades Guests Services. Wilderness camping requires a permit and most are accessible only by boat.
Isle Royale National Park
Houghton, MI 49931
Comprised of hundreds of islands within Lake Superior, Isle Royale cannot be accessed by car. This remote national park near the Canadian border covers 894 acres, the majority in water. Transportation via boat or seaplane to the main island may be available in Houghton and Copper Harbor Michigan or Grand Portage, Minnesota. Some of the park’s docks are closed for the season 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. Camp permits are required regardless of size of the party. Overnight boaters can dock for free but must obtain a permit.
Voyageurs National Park
360 Highway 11 East
International Falls, MN 56649
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.
Related: Family-Friendly Campsites In America
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS Local websites, including CBS New York, CBS Los Angeles and CBS Chicago. His other stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, Examiner.com, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University.