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While the Grand Canyon and Moab are awesome, they can also get crowded.  Here at BUSHMAN EXPEDITION OUTFITTERS we like to find the trails less traveled and always say the expedition truly begins when you leave the crowds and the road behind.  With 2016 being the Centennial Celebration of the National Park System, it is time to give these unknown National Parks a visit.  You can brag to your friends that you not only had a great vacation, but you explored some of the most amazing and remote places in the country.

1. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska

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The Wrangell-St.Elias National Park could be the adventure of a lifetime, and you will definitely leave the crowds behind.  Photo Source: youramazingplaces.com


Most people know Alaska’s Denali National Park, but who goes to Wrangell–St. Elias?  Adventurers that are looking for something different and open wild spaces that’s who.  This unknown National Park is the largest park in the U.S. and has 9 of the 16 highest mountains in the country. There are two mostly unpaved roads that link trailheads, historical sites, and camping sites. The 61 mile McCarthy Road will take you through the boreal forest to the small town of McCarthy and a once thriving copper mine that is now a national historic landmark. The 42-mile Nabesna Road offers crazy mountain landscapes and opportunities to see the Park’s permanent wild residents.  See Dall sheep, caribou, moose, grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, gray wolves, coyotes, red foxes, wolverines, and porcupines. If you don’t want to go it alone, there are many good guide services that provide adventure tours, river rafting, sea kayaking, scenic flights, and guided glacier hikes.


2. Great Basin National Park, Nevada

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Open skies and wild landscape await you at the Great Basin National Park in Nevada. Photo Source: lifehack.org


The Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada has something for every outdoor adventurer except the crowds.  The 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak will leave you breathless with panoramic views and the chance to explore the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere.  While a 13,000 foot climb may seem daunting, there is a scenic road up the mountain that will take you part of the way there. Hiking in the area features glacier-sculpted landscape, 3000 year-old bristlecone pines, and alpine lakes.  If you are eager to try something subterranean, take a ranger lead tour of Lehman Caves.  The marble and limestone passages feature magnificent helictites, delicate argonite crystals, and rare formations called cave shields.


3. Buffalo National River, Arkansas

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The Buffalo National River is not only a great hidden destination; it is also America’s first National River. Photo Source:  pinterest.com


The next unknown National Park is actually a river.  The Buffalo National River in northwestern Arkansas was designated America’s first official national river in 1972.  The park boasts crystal-clear water, lush forests, and remarkable bluffs that line the river and add to the feeling of peaceful isolation.  The river has 135-miles of canoeing and rafting adventure for explorers looking for the road less paddled.  You will find white water on the upper part of the river and more gentle flat water on the lower reaches.  As you glide down the river, three official wilderness areas along the banks add to the unexplored feeling of the river. Be sure to check out the 400 foot sheer sandstone cliffs at Steel Creek that plunge right to the water’s edge. Sand and gravel bars along the way provide a unique opportunity for primitive camping, swimming holes, and a chance to stretch your legs on scenic hiking trails.


4. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana

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The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park offers everything from wild trails to historical sites. Photo Source: virtualtourist.com

Named after a notorious 19th century pirate and smuggler, Jean Lafitte, the park highlights the historic and cultural contradictions of southern Louisiana. The Park comprises six different sites from the swamps of the Mississippi River to historic tours in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This unique adventuring experience allows you the opportunity to see remote and wild natural habitat while still enjoying a great Cajun meal and music at the end of the day.  Explore the historic 1815 New Orleans battlefield or take a riverboat ride in the bayous and see an abundance of wildlife that calls these remote places home.  Southern Louisiana can be hot and intensely humid, when exploring the city and remote places of Louisiana outfitters remind you to take a hat to block the glaring southern sun and protect the neck from sunburn and to wear cool loose fitting clothing.    

5. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico

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The Chaco Culture National Historical Park lets you explore your inner Indiana Jones while enjoying wild habitat.  Photo Source: writeopinions.com


While other Native American sites in the Southwest are more famous, Chaco Canyon was one of the most important trade, ceremonial, and administrative centers for the ancient Pueblo people from around A.D. 850 – 1250.  However, sometime in the 13th century the site was abandoned for unknown reasons.  This World Heritage historical site in northwestern New Mexico offers unique and spectacular architecture in a haunting desert landscape.  The park’s nine-mile Canyon Loop Drive provides access to six major archaeological sites, including very large multi-story public buildings known as “great houses” with adjacent kivas, or ceremonial rooms. The remote location and the site’s more famous neighbors make the park a true hidden gem for adventurers wanting to experience ancient mysteries without a crowd.