This Is the Most Underrated National Park


Woodrow Wilson signed the bill that created the National Park Service on August 25, 1916. Part of the Department of the Interior, today it manages what it calls 423 units, generally known as parks. Across America, they cover 85 million acres. There recently have been battles about how the parks can be used for commercial purposes. Among them is whether companies can drill for oil and gas.

ParkSleepDrive recently set out to pick the most underrated parks in its “Great Places to Visit, Without the Crowds study.

To select the most underrated parks, the survey examined the 2020 version of the National Park Service’s Annual Park Ranking Report. The methodology also used Tripadvisor reviews that graded parks that are “excellent.” And, in the final analysis: “To do so, we’ve looked at the best-reviewed parks with fewer than 1 million annual visitors (as well as the overrated parks with lots of visitors but low reviews!).”

Most of the parks at the top of the list are in sparsely populated states. The top two are in Alaska. Many of the top 20 are in Colorado, South Dakota, New Mexico and Utah. Some have fewer than 100,000 visitors a year. Glacier Bay, which tops the list, had only 570,000 visitors in 2020. It received almost 93% “excellent” reviews.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is located near the southernmost part of Alaska, south of Yukon and west of British Columbia. It was created in 1925 and expanded in 1978. In total, it covers just over 5,000 square miles, which includes tall mountains and glaciers.

These are the 10 most underrated parks in America, along with their percentage of “excellent” reviews:

  • Glacier Bay, Alaska (92.9%)
  • Kenai Fjords, Alaska (89.9%)
  • Crater Lake, Oregon (87.1%)
  • Redwood, California (86.2%)
  • Badlands, South Dakota (86.1%)
  • Sequoia, California (83.6%)
  • Dry Tortugas Florida (82.9%)
  • Haleakala, Hawaii (82.9%)
  • White Sands, New Mexico (82.3%)
  • Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico (81.5%)

Click here to see which national parks have grown the most in popularity.

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