Introverts may get a bad rap for not being as adventurous as the more outgoing extroverted types; however, this does not mean that they do not receive just as much (if not more) inspiration and enjoyment from traveling and spending time in nature. While it is true that introverts generally do not require as much stimulation as their extroverted counterparts, they can also benefit from exploring the natural beauty and splendor that our planet has to offer.
For those introverts who are interested in finding natural areas that induce awe and inspire without the crowds, this list is for you. This year marks the National Parks Service’s Centennial Celebration. In the 100 years since the National Parks Service was established, 59 National Parks (and hundreds of National Monuments, National Historic Landmarks, National Forests, and more) have been recognized and preserved.
There are many parks that become congested by millions of visitors from all over the world, which is not ideal for the crowd-averse types. This list contains 11 National Parks that are not only stunning and unique, but are also less crowded than many of the more popular parks. Check out the list below and get ready to find your park!
1. Badlands National Park – South Dakota
This unique geological formation is one of the biggest hotbeds for fossils in the world. It may receive over a million visitors per year, but that is significantly less than neighboring Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming that receives over 3.5 million visitors per year. Like Yellowstone, Badlands National Park has a wide variety of wildlife, including the majestic bison, pronghorn, and black-footed ferrets.
2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison – Colorado
Located in western Colorado, this incredibly steep, narrow, and dark canyon receives significantly less visitors than the neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park’s 3.4 million. The combination of sheer cliffs and narrow canyon walls creates spaces that see as little as 33 minutes of sunlight per day at the bottom of the canyon. If the darkness in the canyon isn’t inspiring enough, check out the night sky viewing at the park!
3. Canyonlands – Utah
The spectacular canyons, buttes, and mesa formations in this park are carved by the Colorado River, the same river that formed the Grand Canyon. A historical site as well, it contains artifacts and petroglyphs from the Ancient Pueblo people that inhabited this area. Famous for it’s scenic drives and 4WD trails, this park provides hundreds of miles of trails to explore and places to pull over to paint, draw, or photograph the stunning desert scenery.
Another perk of this park is it’s location. It is only 30 minutes from the equally stunning, but busier, Arches National Park. It is only 2 hours from the fascinating formations at Capitol Reef National Park (okay, so maybe this is 13 parks that Introverts will love).
4. Carlsbad Caverns – New Mexico
Located below the Chihuahuan desert is a system of 119 known caves carved by sulphuric acid that dissolved portions of the limestone. While there are other caves in the National Parks system, Carlsbad Caverns is one of the least visited. This park provides the perfect activities for introverts, such as cave tours, night sky programs, and bat programs that highlight its large population of Brazilian free-tailed bats.
5. Congaree – South Carolina
If you’re interested in exploring a wetlands environment without the crowds, Congaree is a fantastic option. This lightly visited park has some of the tallest trees in the Southeastern United States. Kayak or canoe on Cedar Creek to get an up close view of the park’s exotic wildlife such as bobcats, feral pigs, armadillos, snakes, and alligators. This is a great alternative to the much busier (but also beautiful) Everglades National Park, which receives over 1 million visitors per year.
6. Dry Tortugas – Florida
For an even more secluded and remote tropical location, consider the quiet islands of the Dry Tortugas. They are so remote they’re only accessible by seaplane or boat. This National Park is mostly open water perfect for discovering marine life or exploring exquisite coral reefs.
The 7 islands in this chain provide plenty to do as well – with boating, camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, and night sky programs. Introverted history buffs will enjoy the Civil War era Fort Jefferson, which is the largest masonry structure in the Americas.
7. Great Basin – Nevada
If you desire desert solitude, Great Basin National Park is the place to be. This remote inland park shares some of the desert features found in Joshua Tree or Death Valley, but with a fraction of the tourists. This hidden gem contains some of the oldest Bristlecone pine trees (5,000 years old), as well as the uniquely ornate Lehman Caves. This park is also home to some of the darkest skies in the United States, offering some of the most awe-inspiring views of the Milky Way in the world, as well as numerous astronomy programs throughout the year.
8. Great Sand Dunes – Colorado
This incredibly unique park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America as well as several other ecosystems including wetlands, grasslands, lowland, and alpine forests, all surrounded by 13,000 foot peaks in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Medano Creek flows through this region after the snow melts, creating an amazing beach experience. For the best introvert experience, plan your trip on a weekday during the months of May or June when the creek is at its peak flow. If you’re looking to take your adventure up a notch without getting too risky, try sand boarding or sand sledding down the dunes!
9. Isle Royale National Park – Michigan
One of the most secluded and least visited parks, Isle Royale National Park is perfect for the introvert that desires solitude. This rugged island park is so remote that it is closed for several months during the winter – so make sure to plan your trip for summer or early fall. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, this entire island is roadless backcountry, making it an ideal place to experience uninterrupted wildlife viewing. Plan a day hike or backcountry camping to see the moose (and possibly wolves) that this park is famous for.
10. Katmai – Alaska
Another remote park, Katmai, is one of the most breathtaking national parks in Alaska. While all of the northern parks are exceptionally beautiful, Katmai is famous for the Grizzly bears that feast on spawning salmon.
Introverts at this park may prefer to view bears safely from a distance, but backcountry backpacking and camping is also an option for those seeking to become more in touch with nature. This park’s stunning scenery can also be viewed safely away from the bears on one of the many “flight seeing” tours available.
11. Redwood – California
While Redwood National Park is relatively busy compared to many other parks on this list, it is absolutely unmissable due to the awe-inspiring beauty found here. Any introvert can appreciate the beauty and enormity of the Giant Redwood trees, which are the tallest trees on Earth.
The Redwoods aren’t the only reason to visit this park, several ecosystems, including prairie, estuary, coast, river, and forest can be found in the borders of Redwood National Park. Take in the view with a scenic drive along the coast or explore tidepools along the shore. These are perfect activities to enjoy with a friend or on your own.
There you have it, 11 (plus) national parks that introverts can enjoy based not only on opportunities for solitude, but also for the ability to view exotic flora and fauna, partake in spectacular night sky viewing, gain inspiration, as well as learn about the history of these amazing places. Truly, any national park is a wonderful option for adventure for introverts and extroverts alike. Check out the National Parks Service website to find a park that truly speaks to you. Get ready for adventure, inspiration, and maybe even some solitude.
Featured photo credit: John Mark Arnold via cdn.magdeleine.co