These Are the Most Underrated National Parks in the U.S., According to Reddit

Reddit has spoken, and these (quite legit) recommendations are now on my next summer visit list.

<p>Mariah Tyler/Travel + Leisure</p>

Mariah Tyler/Travel + Leisure

When it comes to genuine, unfiltered travel advice from real people, there’s no place like Reddit. And every once in a while, the travel community really shows up, sharing their favorite spots, tricks, and hacks. Earlier this week, one user asked, “What is the most underrated national park in the US?” and over 1,200 people took the time to respond. The best answers, determined by user “upvoting,” rose to the top, revealing a genuine rundown of underrated national parks.

The “best” response to the question (determined by the highest upvote to downvote ratio) was Great Basin National Park, a park that covers most of Nevada, much of Utah, and portions of California, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, and Baja California. Beyond the vast desert, the park houses a 13,000-foot-peak, ancient pines, pitch-black stargazing skies, and mysterious subterranean passages. And considering the fact that the park saw just over 140,000 visitors in 2022 — for context, 12.9 million visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park that same year — there’s no denying the park is underrated.

Next up on the Reddit list, Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, a park that’s best known for its Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, including the Cliff Palace, which visitors can walk inside. One user summed it up well: “Mesa Verde is very slept on, but has some of the coolest geology and oldest/coolest history of any park.” In 2022, less than 500,000 people visited the park.

Across the Colorado state line in Utah, Reddit users recommended skipping Arches National Park, which “was incredible but like Disneyland” and going to Canyonlands National Park instead. The center of the park, Island in the Sky, is a massive, flat mesa riddled with panoramic overlooks. One user said, “I think Island in the Sky rivals the Grand Canyon for mind boggling views.” In 2022, Canyonlands saw over 775,000 visitors, which is also almost half as many as Arches.

The fourth “best” recommendation is one I had to look up. Theodore Roosevelt National Park sits where the Great Plains meet the Badlands in North Dakota. There are three sections to it, with most of the park offering visitors an “otherworldly” feel. One user, a photographer, said, “Im a landscape photographer and one of my best images is from River Bend Overlook. So many people think the photograph is from Ireland or Scotland and are thus floored that there is such a stunning place in North Dakota.” In 2022, Theodore Roosevelt saw 668,000 visitors.

Below are some other underrated standouts, according to Reddit:

  • North Cascades National Park, Washington

  • Badlands National Park, South Dakota

  • Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

  • White Sands National Park, New Mexico

  • Olympic National Park, Washington

  • Channel Islands National Park, California

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