Top 10 National Park Service Sites for Social Distancing

Last week we chose our Top 10 sites for social distancing in the 62 National Parks, so these are our selections from the other 357 National Park Service (NPS) units.  Many NPS sites concentrate people at a single attraction or crowded overlook, but at these parks it is easier to practice social distancing and explore at your own pace. We also chose places where it is not too hot in the summer (with apologies to the awesome Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument). Click here to see all our Top 10 lists. 

10. Ozark National Scenic Riverways (Missouri)

Numerous trails to hike and miles of rivers to float through a beautiful hardwood forest

9. City of Rocks National Reserve (Idaho)

Rock climbers congregate at specific spots, but there are plenty of scenic trails to explore

8. Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail (Mississippi-Alabama-Tennessee)

There are 67 miles of trails and free campgrounds along the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway

7. Cedar Breaks National Monument (Utah)

Hike away from the NPS visitor center to find space at this mini-Bryce Canyon

6. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Montana-Wyoming)

In addition to the lake, there are numerous trails to explore above the cliffs

5. Buffalo National River (Arkansas)

You do not have to hop in a canoe to see the Ponca Wilderness, there are several hiking trails

4. Lava Beds National Monument (California)

Try self-guided caving through lava tubes in this remote section of northeast California

3. Catoctin Mountain Park (Maryland)

Hit the trails to find solitude in the forests around Camp David

2. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (Tennessee-Kentucky)

There are 400 miles of trails here for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders

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

1. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve (Idaho)

Trailheads provide access to cinder cones, lava tubes, and tree molds (though it can get hot)

Honorable Mentions

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (Nevada)

There are neither trails nor any development at all in this new NPS site in Las Vegas

Chaco Culture National Historical Park (New Mexico)

One of several seldom-visited NPS sites to visit once the Navajo Nation reopens

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (Kansas)

Bison roam this restored grassland in the hills of eastern Kansas

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