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Declare Your Independence By Escaping The Crowds At One of These Amazing National Parks (or Forests) This 4th of July

Escape the crowds this 4th of July at these spectacular and uncrowded national parks (& forests) across the country.

As pandemic restrictions ease and eager Americans are anxious to escape the confines of their homes and workplaces, we have prepared a list of wonderful (and inexpensive) places to visit this July 4th. Why spend exorbitant sums on an overcrowded (and expensive) vacation getaway when some of our nation’s most beautiful, least crowded and most affordable destination spots are closer than you might think.

Tired of fireworks shows?  From stunning coastlines to magical forests to geologic wonders which will take your breath away, we have compiled a list of incredible places for you to experience this Independence Day.  

Crowds in the National Parks

national park crowds zion
Zion National Park Shuttle Line at 6:00am June 2021 (courtesy Matt Keough) | 4th of July National Parks

With pandemic requirements easing, many of our nation’s parks have experienced overcrowding.  With this fact in mind, our special list of those parks (and forests) which are least likely to experience crowds, and the restrictions which they can impose on your freedom, will make your July 4th a special experience. 

“is this the line for space mountain?”

Matt Keough – Zion visitor june 2021

So, ready to declare your independence and move about freely? Ready to experience the wonders of nature in your own way? If so then why not consider taking the road less traveled by going to one of these magical places featured below.

4th of July National Park Escapes

Capitol Reef National Park

capitol reef national park utah
Capitol Reef National Park | July 4th National Park Escapes

Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles. Utah’s least known national park is arguably one of its very best. 

No crowds, abundant scenery and there’s even a small town (Torrey) nestled against the park that has restaurants and conveniences which will surprise you.  There are wonderful hiking trails during the day and fabulous stargazing opportunities at night. This wilderness wonderland awaits you.  A trip to Capitol Reef is a capital idea!

Great Sand Dunes National Park

great sand dunes national park colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park | National Parks July 4th

Imagine the Sahara Desert with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and you’re looking at one of the most underrated national parks in all of America!  Great Sand Dunes is a spectacular park located in southern Colorado that features some of the most breathtaking and unique scenery found anywhere in the world.  Because the park is fairly remote and not as accessible to the public, the crowds ought to be minimal. 

Be sure to prepare for the bugs however.  Great Sand Dunes is open 24/7 year round.  And, there are no reservations to visit or limit on the number of visitors in the park and preserve.  The tallest dunes in North America form the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra.  So, what are you waiting for?

North Cascades National Park

north cascades national park mt shuksan
North Cascades National Park | 4th of July National Parks

Referred to by some as the “American Alps,” this incredible park features mountain beauty which rivals any found on the planet.  One of Washington’s three national parks, North Cascades is the least visited, the most difficult to access all around and the most rewarding for those looking for adventure and willing to dare in order to find it.  The park is a backpackers paradise, but be forewarned that it is light on amenities. 

That said, the park’s interior is stunningly beautiful and it’s located less than three hours from Seattle.  For those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life, an alpine landscape beckons. Discover communities of life adapted to moisture in the west and recurring fire in the east.

Explore jagged peaks crowned by more than 300 glaciers. Listen to cascading waters in forested valleys. Witness a landscape sensitive to the Earth’s changing climate. Sleepless in Seattle?  Then why not make your way to this magical place.

Petrified Forest National Park

petrified forest national park arizona nps
Petrified Forest National Park (courtesy NPS) | 4th of July Parks

Petrified Forest is perfect for exploration and discovery.  While the park has all of the wonders known for a century, there are many new adventures and discoveries to share with family and friends. There are backcountry hikes such as Red Basin. There are new exhibits which bring the park’s remarkable stories to life.

Petrified Forest holds a special place in the hearts of those who visit as they will be dazzled by blue mesas, striped hills, warm winds, distant storms, rainbows, petroglyphs, and the most beautiful collection of rocks (petrified wood) that you will ever see. 

Be forewarned, however, that there are no campsites within the facility, but this means fewer people, fewer crowds, and more opportunities to be one with the natural beauty of nature.  So, don’t be petrified when it comes to this amazing natural wonderland.

Redwood National Park

lady bird johnson grove
Redwood National Park | July 4th National Parks

Redwood’s misty forests, wild coastline, pristine streams, and valleys teeming with wildlife are one of the best kept secrets in the national park system.  Discover forty miles of wild and rugged coastline where whales swim and elk roam.  It’s enough to take your breath away! 

Waterfalls and clear blue streams rush against a scenic backdrop of vivid green ferns.  The tallest and most majestic trees soar all around you.  Most people know Redwood as home to the tallest trees on Earth. But you can also experience vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild rivers, and miles of rugged coastline. People have lived in this verdant landscape since time immemorial. 

So, what are you waiting for?  Time to “look up” to those majestic redwoods which will take your breath away.

Voyageurs National Park

Kabetogama Lake Overlook Voyageurs National Park

In the far reaches of northern Minnesota, straddling the Canadian border, you will find a watery wonderland accessible almost exclusively by boat.  Looking to get away from it all?  Here, in the pristine waters of vast lakes and the amazing mosaics of wondrous islands and boreal forest, which comprise this special place, you can leave your cares and worries behind you.

Whether you are exploring by land, water or ice there is something for everyone.  So, why not voyage to Voyageurs?

July 4th National Forests to Escape the Crowds

Black Hills National Forest

black hills national forest south dakota
Black Hills National Forest | 4th of July Destinations

Situated in western South Dakota, the Black Hills National Forest comprises 1.2 million acres of unparalleled beauty. Rising far above the surrounding prairie, the Black Hills even contains the tallest peak east of the Rocky Mountains. Boasting over 13,000 acres of wilderness, 1,300 miles of streams, 450 miles of hiking trails, and 2 national scenic byways, it’s no wonder why so many consider the Black Hills a recreation paradise.

Whether it’s fishing, hunting, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, or just about anything else, the Black Hills offers a spectacular backdrop for your favorite outdoor activities.  We encourage you to visit this beautiful landscape and experience this truly unique part of America. 

Bridger-Teton National Forest

bridger teton national forest
Bridger-Teton National Forest | 4th of National Parks

Located in Western Wyoming, the Bridger-Teton offers more than 3.4 million acres of public land for your outdoor recreation enjoyment. With its pristine watersheds, abundant wildlife and immense wildlands, the Bridger-Teton National Forest comprises a large part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – the largest intact ecosystem in the lower 48 United States.

Offering nearly 1.2 million acres of designated Wilderness, over 3,000 miles of road and trail and thousands of miles of unspoiled rivers and streams, the Bridger-Teton offers something for everyone. We encourage you to visit this beautiful landscape and experience a unique piece of American Heritage.

Dixie National Forest

dixie national forest utah
Dixie National Forest | July 4th National Parks

Nestled in the rugged southwestern corner of Utah, Dixie National Forest spans nearly 2 million acres of endless vistas. Join us as we take you on a visual journey through alpine lakes and aspen forests to vast red deserts and dazzling formations of sand and stone.

Located in southwestern Utah, the Dixie National Forest spans almost 2 million acres and stretches for nearly 170 miles, making it the largest national forest in the state. Winding your way through the stunning landscapes of southern Utah, the Dixie National Forest offers spectacular scenery. The landscapes here easily rival that of its neighbors Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Capitol Reef National Parks.

Flathead National Forest

flathead national forest montana
Flathead National Forest | July 4th National Parks

Situated in the northwestern corner of Montana, the Flathead National Forest comprises 2.4 million acres of dramatic mountain beauty. In the wild heart of the Flathead lies over 1 million acres of pristine wilderness. Lynx, grizzly bears, timber wolves, and a vast and diverse array of other wildlife call the Flathead home.

At over 1 million acres of wilderness, 2,600 miles of hiking trails, 250 species of wildlife and 22 species of fish, the Flathead National Forest truly has something for everyone. We encourage you to visit this beautiful landscape and experience this truly unique part of America.

So why not escape city or suburban life and take a trip to a magical place where nature and scenic beauty abound.

The National Mall Fireworks | Washington DC

national mall fireworks washington dc 4th of july
National Mall Fireworks Show

If it’s the fireworks spectacular that you’re seeking, however, then we’ve got the greatest light show in America for you.  A trip to the National Mall this July 4th will give you and your family the opportunity to experience rockets, red glare bursting in the air in our nation’s capital.  With safety measures in place, you can witness a pyrotechnic extravaganza without any worries.  So, why not make it a capitol fourth?


So, there you have it! Our TOP TEN list of July 4th vacation destinations which will enable you to declare your independence by escaping the crowds, protecting your pocketbook, and experiencing natural wonders which will take your breath away.  So, what are you waiting for?

Tony Pattiz

Tony Pattiz is a retired history teacher currently researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks.

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