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America’s most underrated national parks

Most everyone knows of Yellowstone & Yosemite, but don’t miss these national parks that offer great views with smaller crowds.

If you were to ask people across the country about national parks, places like Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Great Smoky Mountains immediately come to mind. But the United States has 405 national parks, each offering views to leave you gobsmacked. These are 10 of those national parks you may not know about, but will want to see as soon as you can.

1. Great Basin National Park – Nevada

Those willing to take a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City will be rewarded near the Utah/Nevada border. Great Basin boasts the gorgeous Wheeler Peak, which looks like it should be in the Rockies. A guided tour of the Lehman Caves shows off Mother Nature’s glittering brilliances in these marble caverns. And stargazers will love it here as this park is among the darkest in the lower 48 states, making it perfect for people looking to just stare at the night sky.

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2. Biscayne National Park – Florida

Thinking of vacationing in Miami? You’ll find one of the country’s top parks in Biscayne National Park. Within the 173,000 acres of crystal-clear waters you’ll find the third largest coral reef in the world. Like to snorkel? How about doing it while manatees swim by, along with over 200 different species of fish. Oh, and there are 72 shipwrecks in the park. Yeah, there’s a lot to discover at this place.

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3. White Sands National Monument – New Mexico

White Sands National Monument might only be 90 minutes away from El Paso, Texas, but it sure feels like another planet. The dunes of White Sands came to be after westerly winds brought in the sands over a couple of millennia. This is the place for hikers looking for killer challenge by taking on Big Dune Trail, a one-mile trail that gives you a look at the natural surroundings.

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4. Colorado National Monument – [Colorado](http://Check flight prices now)

There’s no shortage of beautiful views in the red-country of the Southwestern US, but the Colorado National Monument is something special. You can hike through the eroded cliffs and peaks of this beauty of a park, but you can easily see its majesty from the comfort of your car on the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive.

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5. Isle Royale National Park – Michigan

This island in the middle of Lake Superior is as good a reason as any to cross the watery border by boat during a stay in nearby Thunder Bay, Ontario. Hikers can explore trails on a preserve that’s the only known place where you’ll find moose and wolves coexisting without the presence of bears. Just make sure to bring some insect repellant, since the insects in the area are as dense as you would’ve seen in the 1800s. Small price to pay to see such an unspoiled oasis.

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6. Olympic National Park – Washington

If lush rainforests, glacier-topped mountains and waterfalls are your thing, then a trip to Olympic National Park is in order. There’s something for anyone to fall in love with at this park tucked into the Olympic mountain range.

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7. Mojave National Preserve – California

You can find some solitude in Southern California? Yes, it’s indeed possible at this gem of a park that stretches out to an astounding 1.6 million acres. Whether you want to check out some volcanic cinder cones, tall sand dunes or the world’s largest Joshua tree forest, the Mojave National Preserve is sure to leave you breathless.

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8. Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Dakota

What does it take to change a scrawny youngster with glasses into a rugged adventurer and president? Well, all it took Teddy Roosevelt to have that transformation was to explore the stout badlands that are full of wild horses, shaggy buffalo and bighorn sheep. And if see all that doesn’t do it for you, a horseback ride along (and sometimes through) the Little Missouri River will revitalize you.

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9. Big Bend National Park – Texas

Still in El Paso after checking out White Sands? Good, now it’s time for you to drive a little over four hours south to see the spectacle that is Big Bend National Park. This place is perfect for a campout under dark skies that shine bright with stars. But only after you take in all the river, mountain and desert terrain of Big Bend’s 800,000 acres.

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10. Haleakala National Park – Hawaii

Vacationing in Hawaii has a habit of washing all the cares away. But to truly get away from it all you’ll want to spend some time at Haleakala National Park on Maui. Guests can take on the hike to get to the summit of Mt. Haleakala. You could also just stroll down the eight-mile Kuapo Gap Trail, which takes you all the way down to the coastline. There’s even some great freshwater swimming holes to take a dip in during your stay.

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Want to read more? Check these out:

15 gorgeous US national parks to visit before you die

America’s 10 best road trips

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Incredible places to visit in the American Southwest

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