When you’re planning a tour of the USA, it can be very hard to see beyond the likes of Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. These world famous national parks in the USA are understandably on many travellers’ bucket lists, and quite rightly so, as they boast some of Mother Nature’s greatest natural wonders to enjoy with your family, significant other, or all on your own!
However, the price they pay for their fame is that they have become tourist traps, with the Grand Canyon alone receiving 4.4 million visitors per year. As a result, it’s highly likely that when you’re admiring the mile-deep canyon from one of the lookout points that you won’t be alone.
Crowds and motor traffic aren’t exactly what you picture when you think of national parks but, given the popularity of the Grand Canyon, it might surprise you to learn that there are plenty of protected areas in the USA and Canada that are something of hidden gems.
With almost 90 national parks between them, these two nations are blessed with many square miles of pristine wilderness – enabling those who want to avoid the tourist hordes plenty of chances to explore spectacular and diverse landscapes in peace and quiet.
Some of these lesser-known national parks include Olympic National Park, in the far north-west of the USA, in Washington state, which is known to the locals as “a gift from the sea”. Although west coast neighbour Yosemite and its granite outcrops such as El Capitan are far more famous, Olympic isn’t without some stunning natural landmarks of its own – the Rialto Beach sea stacks a particular must-see.
Compared to the USA’s national parks, Canada’s really do fly under tourists’ radars, but once introduced to wildernesses such as Waterton National Park in the Rockies, it’s impossible not be enthralled. This mountainous area of bear country is a photographer’s dream – featuring snow-capped peaks, deep blue lakes and towering waterfalls.