Where's it like? Yosemite
What's the alternative? Yosemite plays host to millions of visitors each year. They come to the Sierra Nevada wilderness in California to see peaks, glaciers, meadows, and some of the world’s tallest waterfalls. But for a less crowded experience head just a few hours away to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Both parks (managed as one) also include parts of the Sierra Nevada range. Consequently, Sequoia and Kings feature more than 800 miles of trails winding through peaks, lakes, and waterfalls (just like Yosemite). Plus, you won't miss out on seeing majestic giant sequoias. Given the proximity, you can tackle Yosemite too, but for real solitude, stick with the more rugged Sequoia and Kings.
From Yellowstone to Yosemite, the best U.S. national parks have seen record-breaking visitation numbers of late. We can’t say we’re surprised—these protected destinations are home to some of the country’s most spellbinding landscapes, with plenty of opportunities for camping and hiking along the way. But while these coveted destinations are guarenteed crowd-pleasers, those larger crowds can put a real damper on any effort to be “one” with nature. Fortunately, there are a few hidden alternatives to America's most famous national parks that happen to fly under the radar.
While scores flock to big name parks like the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains, there are lesser-known gems, from Colorado to California, that offer the same breathtaking beauty without all the hubbub. Some alternatives are a stone's throw to their more famous counterparts, while others will take you in a whole new direction. Ready to choose your own adventure? Consider these secret parks, forests, and preserves next time you’re looking to get back to nature.
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