Top 10 National Parks for Social Distancing

With international travel limited in 2020, many Americans are looking to vacation this summer in the country’s amazing National Parks.  The best-known parks often concentrate people at a single attraction with crowded overlooks, so we chose 10 less busy National Parks where it is easy practice social distancing and explore at your own pace, but are also not too hot in the summer (sorry, Death Valley).  For ideas of how to avoid large groups even at the busiest parks, check out our travel guidebook to all 62 National Parks (available on Amazon).

Next week we will choose our Top 10 sites for social distancing from the other 357 National Park Service units (click here to see all our Top 10 lists).

10. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

Bring your snow sleds and find a dune to play on at America’s newest National Park

9. Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Cave tours may not be an option, but there are many trails in this seldom-visited mountain range

8. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

You do not even need a trail to explore Conata Basin and other portions of this park filled with wildlife

7. Sequoia National Park (California)

Avoid the crowds at the General Sherman tree and instead wander trails through the Giant Forest

6. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

You will need a boat to explore these beautiful lakes on the Canadian border

5. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

This park has 20 miles of forested trails and a creek for canoeing (but prepare for bugs)

4. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

You may see more bison than people on two scenic drives and several long trails

3. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Colorado)

There are no official trails up this sand mountain (plus, pick up a free permit to camp on the dunes)

2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

Skip the trail to the peak and instead hike Dog Canyon and the Permian Reef Geology Trail

…and finally our #1 National Park for social distancing:

1. Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

The numerous trails and canyons have encouraged us to return often to this isolated park

Honorable Mentions

Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

Other than on the ferry or floatplane flight, there is plenty of room to explore this island

Everglades National Park (Florida)

Avoid the few trails and get into your canoe to experience the park (but prepare for bugs)

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

It should be easy to find space in this rarely visited park where the sun never sets in summer

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