Friday, October 29, 2021
National parks have long served as conservation and protection areas for Mother Nature and its vast flora and fauna. Over the years, national parks gained immense popularity as tourist destinations and attracted tourists from far and wide, especially travelers with love for adventure and wildlife. The world is home to numerous national parks and most of them records millions of visitors each year.
However, there are certain national parks that are lesser-known to tourists as compared to some popular ones like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. These underrated parks are mostly situated in remote and pristine areas away from the cacophony of daily modern life. But they are also enriched with abundance of natural bounties, some unique wildlife collection, extraordinary environmental features and offers unforgettable tourism experiences. Read on to know about some of the most spectacular yet lesser-known national parks around the world:
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Located around 113km west of Key West, Florida, this national park is a conglomeration of 7 small islands and is mostly an open water space. The islands are part of the Florida Keys reef system but the remote location of the park has mostly kept it away from the public eye. Accessible only by seaplane or boat, the park attracts a mere 70,000 to 80,000 attendees every year. The total number of annual visitors in 2019 was approximately 79,200. However, the national park is home to Fort Jefferson, the largest all-masonry fort in the U.S. It was initially built to combat Caribbean pirates even before the Civil War era but serves as a night sky gazing and camping zone for visitors at present. The park consists of 99% water but the vast underwater life is still unknown to many. The water shelters magnificent coral reefs and deepwater shipwrecks. Besides the rich marine life, the park also welcomes numerous varieties of tropical birds.
Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
Perhaps the most underrated national park in Alaska, the Gates of the Arctic National Park is one of America’s lesser-known gems. Situated right above the Arctic Circle, the park is completely cut off from mainstream civilization and offers around 8.4 million acres of raw and untouched wilderness. With no roads, trails or established campsites, it only hosted approximately 9,500 and 10,500 annual visitors in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Hiking along the backcountry adorned with jagged peaks and meandering rivers, the harsh wilderness is a paradise for travelers with an unquenchable thirst for adventures. However, visitors with less experience in wildlife tourism are mostly advised to access the air taxis that provide flight trips around the region. The sights and sounds of untamed nature and wild habitat blooming in its glory as an aurora-lit sky looms above, can truly serve as a once in a lifetime experience for visitors.
Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy
This park stands as one of the oldest protected areas in the Alps but is still unbeknownst to the general public or tourists, as they usually tend to visit the more popular sites of northern Italy. Situated in the Graian Alps, the park was initially built to protect the Albine Ibex but currently protects numerous other species. It also shelters a vast collection of flora and fauna nestled between the 703 sq. km. of pristine alpine terrain. The park is also ideal for hiking activities during the summer season and skiing during winter. One can also enjoy the picturesque views of the dense green forest amid the beautiful mountain range or spot hundreds of birds, butterflies and other wildlife residing in the park.
Mutawintji National Park, New South Wales
Australia is considered to be one of the regions with the maximum number of national parks in the world. The Australian state of New South Wales has the second largest collection of national parks in the country but only a handful of them are popular among the visitors. There are still many parks in the state that stands away from the general limelight. One such national park is located in the northwest of New South Wales, amidst the endless arid and deserted stretches, approximately 130km from Broken Hills and White Cliffs. A maze of valleys and open gorges leads to land adorned with shades of red and brown with patches of green here and there. Still unknown for many, the park is home to hundred years of Aboriginal history and is an important site for indigenous Australians. Besides the rugged natural bounties, the park also allows one to explore heritage and cultural sites like rock engravings, ochre paintings and hand stencils. One can also enjoy bushwalking trails, camping or picnic activities as well witnessing the local wildlife and outback birdlife. Rare reptile and endangered species can also be spotted here.
National Park of American Samoa, Samoa
Considered to be one of the most remote national parks in the U.S., many people are still unaware that Samoa is a U.S. territory, let alone it has a national park located around 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii. The National Park of American Samoa includes three different volcanic islands and nearly 4,000 acres of underwater area. The park stands out as it moves away from the basic facilities that most national park offers. Instead, it includes secluded villages, coral sand beaches and an array of open land and sea vista. The park offers some of the best hiking and snorkeling opportunities away from the daily hustle-bustle. One can enjoy a hike across the islands adorned with tropical rainforest while enjoying a picturesque view of the ocean as well as experience the magnificent marine life consisting over 250 coral species and around 1000 species of fish. The park welcomed around 60,000 visitors in 2019 which though less given the rich experiences it offers, is still a growth as compared to the 3000 visitors it hosted in 2010.
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