It’s tough to rank the worst national parks in America. Some are very popular but still not worth visiting, and some don’t get many visitors despite being great places. Ranking them also depends on personal preference, so there’s no real way to gauge the worst park. That said, we’re going to be exploring some of the worst parks in America and some of the reasons they are not worth the trip.
What Makes A Park Bad
What makes a national park good or bad? Well, it depends on the person. Many people consider other things than the scenery when deciding how favorable they are to visit a national park. Some people don’t like how crowded it is, while others want to know what facilities the park has before they visit. Other people might not like how expensive some parks are and prefer ones that offer more affordable rates. If you consider all these factors, you’ll be able to determine if a national park is worth the visit!
Gateway Arch National Park
Gateway Arch National Park is on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. It’s not too far from the middle of the city, but it’s far enough to be considered on the outskirts. The park is relatively small, and it only takes about half an hour to walk around the whole thing. If you’re interested in some more scenery, there are a few trails that you can hike.
Those who like urban hikes might find this one delightful because it’s close to downtown St. Louis and has an urban theme to it. However, one thing you’ll notice about this park is how crowded it is. Many tourists visit this location because they want to get a picture of themselves at the arch or enjoy some iconic views of downtown St Louis without going into the city itself.
The lack of parking spaces combined with pre-existing traffic problems makes visiting here tricky if you don’t arrive early in the morning and aren’t willing to spend money on taxi fare to get around! Another thing about this park that people don’t like is the lack of wildlife and extensive trails. You’ll have a better time at other parks in Missouri because they offer much more for their visitors!
Although this park is not terrible, it still makes the list because it is a bit overrated and not as good as some think. There are other places within driving distance from St Louis that you might enjoy more than Gateway Arch National Park!
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. This park lacks a lot of scenic views that many people expect from national parks. You will get an expansive view of the Chihuahuan Desert, but it isn’t particularly beautiful and is quite similar to how it looks in other locations around New Mexico.
This isn’t a national park you would want to visit if you’re interested in camping, hiking, or getting up close with wildlife either. Your best chance at seeing any wildlife will be if you visit during bird migration season or look for insects near Lake Solitude.
This park might also be disappointing for anyone who visits because they can’t see any bats or extensive cave systems from the surface. If you’re looking for an authentic cave experience, you’ll want to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park during wintertime, when the caves are open for guided tours. However, even then, it’s recommended to book your tour far in advance!
Indiana Dunes Nation Park
Indiana Dunes National Park is located in Michigan and is the only national park dedicated to protecting a fragile ecosystem. You might think that Indiana Dunes National Park sounds like a great place, and it would be if you’re the type of person who likes seeing sand dunes. However, there isn’t anything else to do here! This park lacks trails, camping areas, and facilities for visitors. Even though there are some short trails around the area, they’ve been closed off because of erosion issues.
It’s not recommended to visit this park unless you specifically want to see sand dune formations or you want to get up close with a changing ecosystem. This park is also not great because it gets very crowded during the summertime. If you’d like to see sand dunes, you’re better off visiting another park, like Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
Denali National Park
Denali National Park is in northern Alaska. This park might sound interesting because who doesn’t want to go hiking in the great north? Keep in mind that this park is enormous, area-wise. However, 90% of it is off-limits for visitors! The only areas where you’ll be able to hike are Teklanika River and Igloo Creek, both near the entrance of Denali National Park. Of course, it’s crucial to keep in mind that these trails also aren’t easy by any means! You can expect very tough terrain conditions with steep grades, including tangled roots and loose rocks.
You will also run into a lot of mosquitoes, bears, and moose that frequent the area! On top of that, you’ll get very few scenic views because you will spend most of the time on trails in dense forests or on barren landscapes. If you decide to visit Denali National Park, bring bear spray with you during your hike.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Unfortunately, this park doesn’t offer much for visitors and is more of a place for people to come and enjoy the simplicity of nature. Some of the downsides of this park are that it lacks hiking trails and campsites to visit. If you do want to take a hike, the only way you’re going to be able to do that is if you stay in one of their lodges. As for activities, there’s not much either aside from a few biking trails. Even though this park does have some beauty within its borders, it doesn’t make up for what it lacks in amenities!
Gates Of The Arctic National Park
Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska isn’t a great place to visit for various reasons. For one, it’s challenging to get around! There are only about 400 miles of trails within Gates of the Arctic National Park, and they’re not easy to find in any case. In addition, there are no roads that lead into this national park. Depending on the time of year, it can take days or even weeks to hike from one end to the other!
Even if you find your way into Gates of the Arctic National Park, you’ll quickly realize there isn’t much to see. This park also lacks any permanent structures or facilities. What you see is what you get, and that’s about it!
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is in Florida and, like the other parks on this list, isn’t a great place to visit. This park is known for being the most difficult of all national parks to get to! You’ll have to take a boat ride to reach it, and that doesn’t include the price of the ticket. Even if you decide to go on this ride, you’ll then realize there’s not much of anything there! There are only three trails within Dry Tortugas National Park, and they’re only about one mile long.
Many tourists go here and find themselves wondering what they’re still doing at this national park. This park also lacks any campsites, shelters, or facilities, so it is not the type of place you can plan a trip to see. Overall, this park is great if you want to lay in the sun and relax, but that’s about it.
Many of the United States’ national parks are incredible and offer a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. However, there are also some terrible places you can visit as well! It is not a tough choice when it comes down to deciding which park not to see in America. For many reasons, the parks on this list do not stack up against some of the other amazing national parks you can find across the country.
Of course, there are still problems that you might run into with the more popular national parks, but they’re nowhere near as bad as some of the parks on this list. So, before you plan your national park adventure, make sure to check this list!