The Five Least-Crowded National Parks To Visit This Fall

When people think of national parks, they likely picture a crowded Yosemite, Grand Canyon, or Great Smokey Mountains. There was a time when national parks were wild, empty, and pristine.

One could hike, canoe, and admire the fall colors without seeing more than a handful of people. Those places that resemble the parks as they were decades ago still exist, thankfully. 

Some fall locations require long drives, flights, or even packing up the canoe for an otherworldly adventure.

Empty National Parks to Explore This Fall

Take Isle Royale National Park in northern Michigan or Voyageurs National Park near the Canadian border in Minnesota, for instance. These destinations see fewer than 250,000 tourists a year, combined. Both offer gorgeous fall colors, but you must bring all your gear to Isle Royale.

Farther north, fall can be unpredictable yet pristine in Denali National Park. Because it’s so far north, fall and winter can mix in Alaska. But the crowds aren’t around as tourists enjoy these  subalpine forests turning a magical red and orange.

Outside the busy summer months, the park winds down, and tourists are on their own to explore. Make sure to rent a car as you can drive further into the park when the buses stop operating.

Back in the lower 48, the last two national parks to explore for fall colors are Great Basin National Park and North Cascades National Park.

Easy Access National Parks

Neither park requires payment to enter, so these numbers may not be absolutely accurate. Official data says fewer than 150,000 people visit Great Basin, and only 30,000 visit the North Cascades, in spite of their easy access.

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