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National Geographic Reveals The Top 5 Lesser Known National Parks To Visit This Summer

For those looking to embrace the great outdoors this summer, consider these top five lesser-known national parks in the United States, as recommended by National Geographic. While some of these destinations are off the beaten path, they promise stunning landscapes and unique experiences without the crowds. Let's dive into these hidden gems.

Hot Springs National Park: A Historical Retreat

Nestled in Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical charm. Known for its thermal springs, the town of Hot Springs has been a health hub for nearly two centuries. The 143°F thermal waters have long been believed to have healing properties. Visitors can experience this tradition at Bathhouse Row, home to eight Victorian-era bathhouses.

In addition to its historic spas, the park features 43 thermal springs and 26 miles of hiking trails through the Ouachita Mountains' dense forests. While outdoor soaking is not allowed, you can enjoy the springs at Buckstaff and Quapaw bathhouses. Located less than an hour from Little Rock, Hot Springs National Park is easily accessible and perfect for a relaxing getaway immersed in nature.

For more details and planning, visit the official Hot Springs National Park site.

Indiana Dunes National Park: A Beachside Haven

Surprising as it may be, Indiana boasts beautiful beaches along Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Park. This park is home to 15 miles of shoreline, offering stunning views of the Chicago skyline. Kemil Beach is a favorite spot, known for its clean sand, generous parking, and peaceful atmosphere.

Beyond the beaches, the park features dunes, wetlands, prairies, and forests. It's a perfect destination for a summer escape without the heavy crowds. Entrance fees are $25 per private vehicle, with an annual pass available for $45.

To learn more, visit the Indiana Dunes National Park site.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park: A Wildlife Wonderland

Located in North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Named after the 26th President, this park offers a quieter alternative to popular destinations like Yellowstone or Yosemite. Visitors can expect to see bison, wild horses, and bighorn sheep in a landscape that feels untouched and serene.

The park's diverse terrain includes badlands, prairies, and rivers, making it ideal for hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography. Entrance fees range from $15 to $30, with annual passes available for $55.

For more information, check out the Theodore Roosevelt National Park site.

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve: An Untouched Wilderness

For those seeking adventure, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska is the ultimate destination. Situated above the Arctic Circle, this park offers a unique experience where the sun doesn’t set for nearly two months during summer. Visitors must be prepared for a rugged journey, as there are no roads or marked trails, and reaching the park often requires a chartered plane.

The park’s pristine landscape includes mountains, rivers, and wildflowers, providing breathtaking photo opportunities. It's recommended for experienced outdoors enthusiasts with strong survival skills. August is the best time to visit for vibrant wildflower displays.

Plan your trip by visiting the Gates of the Arctic National Park site.

National Park of American Samoa: A Tropical Paradise

The National Park of American Samoa offers a unique experience that feels both American and international. Spread across the islands of Tutuila, Ta’ū, and Ofu, this park is a tropical paradise with crystal-clear waters, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife, including over a thousand species of native animals.

The beaches here are pristine, with soft white sand and few visitors, making it an idyllic retreat. Note that a passport is required for entry to American Samoa, setting it apart from other U.S. territories.

Discover more by visiting the National Park of American Samoa site.

These five national parks provide a perfect blend of adventure, tranquility, and natural beauty. Whether you're looking for historical charm, serene beaches, wildlife encounters, rugged wilderness, or tropical paradise, these destinations offer something for every nature lover. Plan your summer adventure today and explore these hidden gems. For more travel inspiration and tips, visit


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