Indeed, one of America's most brilliant innovations was the system of national parks, not to mention that this was, if not the best idea to backpackers, hikers and adventure seekers like us. They are such a good concept, that all of their locations are on the bucket list for the majority of people! From the age-old magnificence of Yellowstone to the New River Gorge that is kind.
However, these national monuments are also typically packed to the gills with people specially on peak seasons. In short, they're extremely crowded!
But wait, we got you! We have here some alternatives that not only give you stunning views but also offer superb experience like those of the national parks. The locations on this list are paths that get fewer visitors than others. That is why these are a must for people who like to enjoy peace and solitude. There are remote old-growth woods and uncharted shores that are only a few clicks away from the normal vacation plan you might have. Don't worry, you can easily locate these places by using the internet. All of them have the same great views as the national parks, and who knows, maybe one day they'll all be elevated to the likes of Yellowstone!
Located in Arizona/Utah, Monument Valley is where the natural world takes itself very seriously. This is a place of massive red sandstone cliffs that give the impression that they were sculpted by the gods. Huge spires arise so far in the distance that even on a clear day, they are obscured by haze. Every fissure has a tale to tell, and every ledge has a view that is one of a kind and memorable.
Although it is clear that Monument Valley should be preserved as a national park, this area is now managed as a Navajo Tribal Park. It is a destination with deep roots in both traditional Native American religion and modern Hollywood imagery, and it serves as an enormous entryway to the beautiful desert vistas of both Utah and Arizona.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Isle Royale, the only national park of its kind in Michigan, is located right in the midst of Lake Superior, making it one of the most inaccessible national parks in the United States. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is the most bizarre of Michigan's coastline, and it is located on the same lake as the state park that bears its name.
The region gets its name from the wall of towering limestone cliffs that dominate the landscape. These cliffs are best seen from the crystal blue waters below on a boat trip or kayak adventure. The cliffs gradually give way to lush woods of pine, which are home to miles of winding paths and beaches that you can all explore. Odd natural monuments such as Chapel Rock, which is a freestanding limestone column crowned by a solitary tree and spans over thin air before plunging into the nutritious earth, provide opportunities for interesting photographs.
Custer State Park/The Black Hills National Forest
Cheers! You can skip the visit to Mt. Rushmore and instead have this as your alternative. What's more is that, the Needles Highway, a dizzyingly winding length of road that zigzags over pointed spires jutting out of the earth like fossilized teeth, and the Sylvan Lake are both located here in the Custer State Park, on the western edge of SoDak located at South Dakota.
Once you’re done in Custer, unleash yourself on the Black Hills National Forest, a 1.2 million-acre swath of land that includes the tunnel-like Spearfish Canyon, endless mountain lakes, and plenty of caves to explore. This is a place that rewards wanderlust—it’s no wonder a million bikers descend upon the area every year to ride free/listen to Smash Mouth—and once you’ve had your fill of the Hills, Devils Tower is a short ride west in Wyoming, while the Badlands (and America's greatest roadside attraction) await back east.
Oregon Dunes/The Southern Oregon Coast
As one travels south down Highway 101 along the coast of Oregon, one will notice that things are becoming more strange, but in a good way, with each passing minute. The northern coast of Oregon is loaded with charming fishing communities that serve as major tourist draws. In the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a roughly 32,000-acre stretch of blowing sands, what starts as a sea stack-laden parade of beaches takes a turn toward the Saharan. If you can make it through the treacherous three-mile climb, you'll be rewarded with a private beach on the Pacific Ocean.
If you continue further south, you can take the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor which is a winding road that is 12 miles long and is located just to the north of California. Along this road, you will come across a variety of otherworldly sights that are so subtle that you might miss them if you blinked. Just kidding. Find the fabled Arch Rock and Natural Bridges, which seem to be an old obstacle for Odysseus to surmount as they span the gap between the land and the thundering waves.
Located in New York, Adirondack State Park is roughly three times as large as Yellowstone National Park in terms of land area. As you take in the breathtaking views from the park's 46 towering mountains, 30,000 miles of winding river, and 3,000 lakes, we have no doubt that you'll want to stay for weeks, if not months!
As far as natural resources and scenic views go, this one is right up there with the best. Mount Marcy is a great spot to contemplate your, what we call our life's "self assessment". In the autumn, do the Upstate thing and go leaf-peeping; and in the spring, go whitewater rafting down some of the most exhilarating rapids in the country. You'll have plenty of places to choose from when it's time to call it a night: in addition to the tens of thousands of campsites and lovely cottages strewn throughout the wilderness, there are roughly 105 attractive little towns, including well-known ones like Lake George and Lake Placid.
Red River Gorge
Found in Kentucky, this 13,000-acre paradise, usually referred to as "The Red" by the hordes of climbers who descend upon it each year to tackle its world-famous crags, has been named a National Natural Landmark, but its lack of national park status is almost surprisingly shocking at this point.
Natural sandstone arches scurry through dense trees in this area. Many thrill-seekers go to this nameless river, which is home to an almost infinite number of waterfalls. There are also some fantastic neighboring spots, like the Natural Bridges State Park, one of the world's most awe-inspiring stone bridges. Of course, all of this is surrounded by the famed Daniel Boone National Forest, which appears to go on endlessly and provides an abundance of possibilities to explore your wild side.
The Northeast Kingdom
The Northeast Kingdom, a thickly wooded mass that spans the whole northeastern portion of Vermont. It is brimming with magnificent views, flavors, and experiences worthy to be added on every backpackers must-go list
The idyllic small towns (and general stores) that immediately come to mind when you think of "Vermont" can be found in this region, which is encircled by the Green Mountains and the Connecticut River. These towns serve as waypoints en route to locations such as the crystal clear Lake Willoughby and the sentinel Mount Pisgah. Although keep in mind that this Vermont is the Vermont of your fantasies. Behind is magnificent views and feel, the residents have made sure that maintaining it is their whole responsibility, and they are not afraid to go NIMBY if you roll in and mess with their location. Just be nice and chill out.
Caddo Lake State Park
Texas is an enormous state; nevertheless, despite the fact that the Lone Star State is just marginally larger than France, the reality remains that a significant portion of it is a monotonous sprawl consisting of cracked deserts, 10-gallon hats, and 20-pound BBQ plates. Quite the numbers right?
You'll find yourself paddling your canoe through a labyrinth of bayous as you make your way across this canal that spans 30,000 acres. Here, sunshine and sometimes moonbeams, filter through Cyprus trees and hanging moss. It is a creepy and completely unexpected stretch that will have you asking if you truly knew Texas at all, until you stroll into the boisterous speakeasy known as Dick & Charlie's Tea Room in the center of the world's biggest cypress forest. This, if you find, unequivocally serves as evidence that you are not lost and still is in the state.
Pisgah National Forest
Located in North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest has just 500,000 acres, making it one of the smallest national forests in the United States. Its location in the shadow of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which receives 12.1 million people annually, makes it the busiest national park in the whole system. Although, most people who come are only passing through, still it is a significant number to take note of.
Pisgah may be a little mountain, but it packs in marvelous sights! It features swimming holes, roaring rivers, towering waterfalls, and every conceivable vantage point from which to take in some of the most breathtaking autumn foliage in the United States. After you've had your fill of hiking, climbing, and other outdoor activities, you may take a trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Great Smoky Mountains and find out what all the excitement is about there. Just know that when you've seen what Pisgah has to offer, the large park is going to seem a lot smaller in comparison to what it has to offer.
There you have it! Our most suggested alternatives to hike and explore! We hope you learned something new. Stay true and hike while we can. Cheers!