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National Parks: Best of the Rest (Acadia to Zion)

Your life-list only starts with the top 10 parks. Our favorite hikes from the next 40 will fill it with glacier-edge paddling, desert-oasis exploring, and more.

Acadia, ME
47,390 Trail miles 125 2010 backcountry campers Not allowed
Tag 1,528-foot Cadillac Mountain (the highpoint of this craggy-cliffed park) on an 8.8-mile loop from Sieur de Monts Spring Nature Center. Tip: Hike it (early!) on New Year’s Day to be the first in America to see the sunrise on the new year. Season Shoulder seasons (for lighter traffic and pleasant weather) Contact Trip ID 55560

Badlands, SD
244,000 Trail miles 18 2010 backcountry campers 23,984
Devilishly balanced rock spires, a labyrinth of interconnected washes, pronghorn boneyards, and mesmerizingly endless scrub prairie await on a 22-mile backpack through the Sage Creek Wilderness. Pack water. Season Late summer to early fall Contact Trip ID 490492

Kobuk Valley, AK
1,669,813 Trail miles None official 2010 backcountry campers 503
The few who make the journey (there are no roads) to this remote Alaska park earn a vast wilderness of sand dunes, boreal forests, and stately stands of unnamed, unclimbed peaks. Season Late spring to mid-autumn Contact

Voyageurs, MN
218,054 Trail miles 53 2010 backcountry campers 35,650
Loons and howling wolves fill the silent spaces between your paddle strokes in this watery Minnesota wilderness. Tour it on the 27.9-mile Kab-Ash Trail. Season Late summer Contact

Haleakala, HI
30,183 Trail miles 30 2010 backcountry campers 1,260
Silversword plants dot a cinder-cone moonscape in the inner caldera of this 10,023-foot volcano. Descend from the rim on an 11-mile overnight, and camp at Holua (mile seven) as shooting stars score the ink-dark sky. Season Late spring for mild temps Contact

Saguaro, AZ
91,440 Trail miles 165 2010 backcountry campers 1,568
Climb to a “sky island” above the Sonoran Desert in this park flanking Tucson. Hike 13.8 miles (out-and-back) on the Tanque Verde Ridge Trail to Juniper Basin, where saguaro cacti give way to hedgehog cacti and junipers. Camp near cottonwoods. Season Spring for water and wildflowers Contact

Congaree, SC
26,545 Trail miles 38 2010 backcountry campers 1,174
Red-eye Vireo flit in the cherrybark-oak canopy that frames the Congaree River. Hike the 10.4-mile River Trail to access the banks via mossy wetlands. Season Year-round Contact

Theodore Roosevelt, ND
70,447 Trail miles 100 2010 backcountry campers 732
Bison, elk, deer, and wild horses cross this protected swath of Great Plains prairie in North Dakota. Take in sweeping vistas along the 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail. Season Spring or fall Contact

Mesa Verde, CO
52,120 Trail miles 20 2010 backcountry campers 395
After visiting the famously well-preserved ruins of an Ancestral Pueblo castle tucked into a sandstone amphitheater, explore the nearby desert on the 7.8-mile Prater Edge Trail. Season Year-round Contact

Mammoth Cave, KY
52,835 Trail miles 70 2010 backcountry campers 4,981
Take a guided tour of the world’s largest mapped cave system, then stick around to hike on top. The 10.5-mile Sal Hollow Loop’s boulder fields and stream-crossed hills see few visitors thanks to the crowd-drawing chamber below. Season Spring and fall Contact Trip ID 26255

Petrified Forest, AZ
93,533 Trail miles 7 2010 backcountry campers 300
Trek the Painted Desert to piles of segmented petrified wood sprinkled amid clay sidehills showing muted shades of red and gray. Pack water and camp at least a mile from the road. Season Spring and fall Contact

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