30 Most Underrated National Parks in the World

October 17, 2018

30) Ruaha, Tanzania

Ruaha (20,00 visitors a year) is often slept on because of the draw of Serengeti (350,000). At 7,800 square miles, Ruaha is as almost as large as New Jersey. This wonderland provides big game, more prominent views without the big crowds. You can fall asleep to the calls and roars of lions; 10 percent of Africa’s lion population lives in Ruaha (for reference, Africa is 11.73 million square miles). In Ruaha National Park, you can witness wild dogs roam and herds of buffalo that roll 500 deep.    

29) Guadalupe Mountains, Texas

The Guadalupe Mountains in Texas only welcomes 145,670 visitors a year. The Guadalupe Mountains offers over 80 miles of hiking trails, from easy to hard, this is a hiking paradise. The park is so desolate; you cannot find a restaurant, gas station or overnight lodging businesses within at least 35 miles from the park.

28) Pirin, Bulgaria

Located in southwest Bulgaria, Pirin National Parks is one, of only, three national parks in the country. Mount Pirin, believed to be named after a God of thunder and lightning, towers at 9,560 feet. It’s estimated only 3% of all Bulgarian tourists will visit this natural attraction.

27) Isle Royale, Michigan

Isle Royale lies in the northwest corner of Lake Superior, north of Upper Michigan and only 15 miles from Canadien and Minnesotan shores. The only way to enjoy the tranquility of this island is via boat or float plane. Isle Royale is home to more moose and wolves than humans. This insanely underrated national park offers ten shipwreck tours in the blistering cold waters of Lake Superior. The island is 45 miles long, 9 miles wide, it remains the third largest island in the contiguous US and 33rd overall in the country. 450 smaller islands surround this unsung destination. Don’t let the incommodious transportation options scare you away, once you’re there you’ll understand why it’s one of the most revisited national parks.

26) Canaima, Venezuela

Canaima is home to some of the most chiseled tepui (or mesa). The Pemon natives dubbed Canaima, it translates to “spirit of evil.” Two of the largest waterfalls (Angel Falls and Kukenan) in the world reside in this fascinating and enormous park (almost as large as Belgium).

25) Katmai, Alaska

Over 2,000 Alaskan Brown Bears live in Katmai National Park. However, Katmai only sees roughly 37,818 visitors a year. In efforts to create awareness of its beautiful existence, Katmai rangers started Fat Bear Week. For the last four summers, Bear Cams have been placed to monitor bears of the park as they feast on salmon to prepare for hibernation season. Online users can watch the live stream and vote on which bear they perceive to be the most robust. There have been a new winner 3 out of the first four years; heavy lies the crown. Katmai is also home to 14 volcanoes. Check out their live bear cam here; I’ve watched these fat furry friends fill their faces with fish for an entire lunch break.

24) Saxon Switzerland, Germany

Saxon Switzerland, established in 1990, is a new player to the game. Perhaps that is why it remains under the radar. This hidden gem is only 36 square miles, is a process to get to, and is known for its abundance of free climbing opportunities.

23) Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska

Wrangell-St. Elias is USA’s largest national park and is larger than most countries. Wrangell is home to Mount St. Elias (18,808 ft). Only 80, 366 daring adventurers escapade throughout this giant and desolate heaven. It’s home to the second highest mountain in the US; it’s the largest park in the US, hardly anyone ever visits here, what else do we need to sell you on?

22) São Miguel, Portugal

São Miguel Island is home to Salto do Prego, Pico da Vara, Rocha da Relva, Mosteiros Beach, Praia do Lombo Gordo, Caldeira das Sete Cidades, etc. Also, Portugal is one of the cheapest places to travel; allowing you to take in cuisine, wines, beers, and nightlife of Portugal, after exploring, without breaking the bank.

21) Namib-Naukluft, Namibia

Namib is 19, 216 square miles and is one of the world’s largest protected areas. The park is known for its enormous dunes that formed from heavy winds arriving from the Atlantic Ocean. Some dunes reach up to 1,000 feet high and are the tallest in the world.

20) Mole, Ghana

Mole National Park is the only place in the country to see wild elephants and is the first ever established national park in Ghana. This parks appeal is its liberty to trek via foot; due to its limited amount of natural predators. This safari is very different from the type of safaris we see on tv.

19) Kootenay, BC, Canada

Now you know we had to shout out our brothers and sisters north of the border. In Kootenay, you’ll find Helmet Falls. Helmet stands at 1,154 feet and is one of the tallest waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies. Check out the Rockwall Trail, pretty dope.  

18) Guilin and Lijiang River, China

This national park traverses 50 miles along the Lijiang River. You would be hard-pressed to find a view you didn’t like. If this is a destination you would want to visit before it becomes a tourist trap; you best hustle and plan a trip soon, this park won’t be on this list for long.

17) Great Basin, Nevada

Not trying to be a joker but the Great Basin is home to the darkest nights (rim shot) as well as the oldest trees in the world. Most people skip out on Great Basin as a vacation idea since it’s so close to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. In Great Basin National Park, you’re so far away from light pollution; you’ll feel like an astronaut as you can gaze at every star in the sky. Camping and living in nature is all about unplugging yourself from all the social norms we’ve made up, and there is no better place to GTFO than Great Basin National Park.

16) Mountain Zebra, South Africa

Y’all ever saw some wild cheetahs on foot? Okay, cool. Check out Mountain Zebra. This undervalued preserve earned its name as it began to protect the endangered Cape mountain zebra in 1937. There were only six zebras in the 1930s, that number has since increased to 350.

15) National Park of American Samoa

Remember those Southwest Airline commercials that asked you if you “Want to Get Away” after you did something embarrassing? Of course, you do. Well, National Park of American Samoa is where I close my eyes and picture myself anytime I want to avoid any human contact. Lying 2,600 miles southwest of the already isolated Hawaii, National Park of Samoa is one of the most remote destinations in the world. If Elvis is alive, I like to picture him and Tupac hiking, snorkeling, and swimming at Ofu Beach. If you’re looking for a last minute vacation, look no further, you can fly here anytime as no passport is needed for access.

14) Liuwa Plain, Zambia

The terrain in Liuwa Plain is so pristine, and the game is so spread out, that it may take some time to catch them in their natural habitat. All that being said; catching wildebeest herds, prides of lions and packs of wild dogs is worth every second. These beasts have so little human contact that they don’t know how big of jerks humans can be yet.

13) Biscayne, Florida

Biscayne drew some popularity after rapper Drake mentioned he had a condo out there. However, it is still a hidden gem since most travelers flock to Disney World, Miami Beach or the Everglades when they’re in its area. In the Biscayne Bay you can hike, swim, snorkel, paddle, discover undeveloped parts of the Florida Keys and see evidence of shipwrecks tracing back to 10,000 years ago.

12) Mayumba, Gabon

If you’re feeling “turtley enough for the Turtle club” check out the leatherback turtles of Mayumba National Park. The abundance of dunes, rainforest and beaches make Mayumba a local hotspot. However, many tourists do not visit, which could mean you’ll be welcome with open arms. This place gives me Jungle Book vibes, considering you have the opportunity to see gorillas, elephants, crocodiles, chimpanzees, leopards, buffaloes, etc. It’s preservation even reaches 15 kilometers out to sea; protecting sharks, dolphins and humpback whales. If you love the animals at the zoo, but despise the idea of zoos, come to Mayumba.

11) Wind Cave, South Dakota

Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota is one of the nation’s oldest. The common association, with the Dakotas, are the Great Plains. However, there is a fascinating hidden world beneath the plains. With a vast collection of cave passageways, Wind Cave is the first ever cave national park and stretches 140.47 miles long. The people of the Lakota believed the cave to be sacred and it’s a portal from where our ancestors have emerged.

10) Valbona Valley, Albania

Valbona is located in the Albanian Alps. All of the land in Valbona Valley National Park is protected and remains very secluded. There are no stores, no post offices, no gas stations and very little lodging in the Valbona Village. Valbona National park is the perfect place for uninterrupted hiking, mountaineering, fishing, and many more outdoor activities.

9) Gates of the Arctic, Alaska

The Gates of the Arctic is the northernmost national park in the US and is sure to give you those “North of the wall” feels as glacier-carved valleys surround you with every turn of the head. Although no giants or wildlings have yet to be spotted, you can bet your bottom dollar that you probably won’t see fellow tourists either. This area is so secluded; it doesn’t have roads or trails to the park. Gates of Arctic provides no facilities and only sees 10,475 visitors a year; which will give you the best opportunity to be alone with mother nature. Do not experience this beautiful, but grueling, destination for the Gram, do it for you.

8) Triglav, Slovenia

Triglav National Park is home to Slovenia’s lone national park. It is also one of Europe’s first national parks. Triglav’s appeal is that it’s highest summit, Triglav Mountain, stands tall at 9,395 feet and in the center of the park; giving you a vantage point to everywhere in the park.

7) North Cascades, Washington

North Cascades only gets 20,677 visitors per year. The park is three hours from Seattle and offers rewarding hikes, exhilarating fishing and some of the best camping opportunities in the nation. The hikes here are much like college; a kick in the ass, but worth the grind.

6) Sperrgebiet, Namibia

Sperrgebiet National Park is one the newest park of Namibia. Sperrgebiet is an old diamond mine whose name translates to “forbidden territory.” It is so new that most of it is inaccessible to visitors and undeveloped. The views are worth the trip.

5) Apostle Islands, WI

The Apostle Islands of Wisconsin consist of 22 islands in the Great Lake Superior. At the Apostle islands you can explore sea caves, and in the winter sometimes the lake will freeze over; allowing you to walk from island to island. Pretty cool. The Apostle Islands are nothing like the rest of the tundra of Wisconsin.

4) Connemara, Ireland

Connemara National Park is home to a graveyard with tombs as old as 4,000 years. A good chunk of this land was part of Kylemore Abbey Estate. Many locals proudly coin this area the “Real beauty of Ireland.” This is a great place to take your daughter; wild ponies roam everywhere. If you’re feeling spooky, check out the Charleville Castle while you’re in the country.

3) Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Belarus

The better parts of Belovezhskaya remain unscathed, and it’s one of Europe’s biggest forest massifs. The most compelling phenomena here is during the springtime. The spring floods create a large sea that surrounds Belovezhskaya.

2) Mahale Mountains, Tanzania

Chimpanzees are dope. At the Mahale Mountains National Park, you can take a “Chimp Trek.” I’m not sure if Segways are included on any trails, however, you will get to see chimps in their natural habitat

1) Danube Delta, Romania

Danube Delta is the place to be if you’re a bird watcher. The Danube is the home of over 300 different bird species. The Danube prides itself in being one of the most untouched wetlands and largest deltas in its continent.