These National Park Areas Had Less Than 1,000 Visitors in 2021: Here’s Why

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Pascale BEROUJON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The over 400 U.S. national parks had exactly 297,115,406 visitors last year. But despite the overall huge popularity of the protected land, not all parks have the same draw as others.

The top three most frequented spots—the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area—accounted for nearly 44 million visits alone. But the bottom four only brought in an accumulated total of 1,311.

There Are the National Park System Areas in Question:

  • Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (629 visits),
  • Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River (275 visits)
  • Alagnak Wild River (262 visits)
  • Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve (145 visits).

If you’ve been planning a trip to one of these locations, don’t let the dismal numbers deter you though. The lack of visits has nothing to do with the parks’ natural beauty. In fact, if you’re looking to escape, these five spots should be on the top of your list.

The reason these national parks get so few visitors each year is that all of them are extremely difficult to get to. And only the most skilled hikers can handle the isolated locations.

These National Parks Only Attract the Most Dedicated Visitors

The Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River sits on “the most remote corner of Texas,” according to the NPS. And the other three are located in the untouched wilds of Alaska. So people who are looking for an easy and peaceful trip aren’t going to gravitate to the parks in question.

The state’s more popular Denali National Park brings in hundreds of thousands of people a year because it’s relatively convenient to see. But people going to Yukon-Charley Rivers, Alagnak Wild River, and Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve have to have some serious dedication.

Travelers going to Yukon-Charley, for example, can only get to the park by boat or plane during the summer. And if they want to go during the colder months, they have to ride on snowmachines.

And anyone who plans on taking a trip to Alganak will have to do so at their own risk. The parks department warns visitors that there is a lack of services in the area. So everyone who goes should “plan on being self-sufficient.”

And similarly, the Rio Grande and Aniakchak require a lot of pre-planning and preventative gear.

But if you do make it to one of these desolate national parks, you’ll have the rare chance to see some of the last completely untouched land on Earth. And as NPS mentioned, the same characteristics that make the locations hard to reach “can make for the adventure of a lifetime.”