Top 5 Most Overrated National Parks

Updated: Feb 24

Here at The Right to Explore we want you to have the most memorable and inspiring trips to our National Parks. Planning an adventure soon? Here's what to avoid...

5) Yellowstone National Park

NPS / Neal Herbert

Yellowstone National Park is the most famous national park in the United States. Because of this, 4 million people visit the park every year. Unlike Grand Teton, most of Yellowstone's roads are only open from May/June until the snows of October. This can lead to hours of waiting just to approach the entrance stations on busy days, and unfathomable traffic jams if wildlife is ever encountered on the road. After waiting to enter the park, you may be excited to visit world-famous sites like Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. However, the impressive crowds gathering in these areas take away vastly from the natural wonder and unfortunately place Yellowstone National Park on this list. I purposely left it only at number 5 because, if you can afford to, the park is brilliant in the postseason. Unfortunately, it is very expensive to visit in winter.

4) Hot Springs National Park

Let's be honest, no one understands why this Arkansas resort is a national park. Hardly 8 square miles make up this National Park, and yet 1.5 million visitors enter the park each year. If Hot Springs National Park was its own county, it would be the most densely populated county in Arkansas on any given day. There isn't much to do and there's even less to see. I do not recommend visiting this tourist trap.

3) Zion National Park

Zion National Park has recently entered the ranks as a Top 5 most visited park. Quite an achievement, however, quite a disappointment. The park requires you to ride around in a crowded shuttle and makes sure to suck money out of you with its $15/person lottery trail permit system. Free trails are very crowded and the surrounding towns have catered to this by offering paid adventures, changing the atmosphere from national park to theme park. There's not much Zion can do to fix this, but if you're planning a trip in Utah's south, I recommend exploring the many free state parks and national monuments in the area instead.

2) Denali National Park

This National Park represents a lot of what The Right to Explore aims to change. For a simple day soaking in the beauty of Alaska's interior with your family, prepare to pay $80+/person. Denali requires visitors to reserve and pay for an 8 hour narrated bus tour, the only way into the park. This park is a complete and total ripoff, especially if you have limited time, thus a limited chance to even catch a glimpse of the park's namesake. Denali mountain stays hidden behind clouds for days at a time, so in the brief visitor season, you stand hardly a chance at all of seeing it. Save yourself time and money, and visit Wrangell St. Elias national park instead.

1) Rocky Mountain National Park

Ah, the Rocky Mountains. America's spine, its backbone. Located just an hour from the hustle and bustle of the I-25 corridor, lies towering 14ers, waterfalls, rivers, and glaciers. Isn't Colorado supposed to be the center of scenery? If you have ever visited any other national park in the Rockies, prepare to be utterly disappointed. 4.5 million people visit this park each year, making it the third most visited U.S. National Park. If I had to guess, 4.5 million of them were fooled by the name and left unimpressed. Like the other parks on this list, of course, it has beautiful areas and photo opportunities- these are just squashed by crowds and expectations. This park in particular has nothing 'stunning' about it, just some rounded peaks and uninspiring forests. There are far more beautiful places in Colorado, where you can experience the solitude you were promised by the National Park service.

Check out our Top 10 Most Underrated National Parks!


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