The Road Less Traveled; National Parks Worth Seeing

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Peak season on Assateague Island is from April through October. During this time, travelers looking to completely avoid the presence of other people should obtain a backcountry permit (permits cost $5 per person or $15 per vehicle), which gives visitors access to the less traveled parts of the park. Backcountry campers can doze off to the sounds of crashing waves at one of several oceanside campsites, or sleep in a shady forest by the bay. You can't take your car to the backcountry, but getting there by foot or canoe (which can be rented on the island) is half the fun.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska

The United States' largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, is a massive expanse of iconic Alaskan landscapes -- snow-capped peaks, pristine glaciers, herds of mountain caribou, and thick, boreal forests. The scale of Wrangell-St. Elias is astounding, and it's difficult to describe the park without ticking off a list of superlatives.

Wrangell-St. Elias encompasses over 13 million acres, the equivalent of about six Yellowstone National Parks. Nine of the United States' 16 highest mountain peaks are located within the park, including Mount Wrangell, one of the largest active volcanoes on the continent, and Mount St. Elias, the second-highest peak in the U.S. Plus, some of North America's largest glaciers can be found in Wrangell-St. Elias.

Despite Wrangell-St. Elias' impressive numbers, its visitation is surprisingly low. Less than 60,000 people visited the park in 2009. We crunched the numbers and discovered that if all annual visitors were in the park at the same time, each person would have more than 219 acres of remote Alaskan wilderness to him or herself.

Why so few visitors? Because of Wrangell-St. Elias' remoteness and breadth, planning a visit here can be quite challenging. There are only two roads that actually enter the park, neither of which is paved. Accessibility is limited, and modern conveniences like running water and electricity are few and far between. After all, this is the Alaskan wilds. But if you're intrepid enough to plan a trip to Wrangell-St. Elias, you'll find a wealth of incredible wilderness-oriented activities, from glacial hiking to sea kayaking, at your disposal.

Have you visited a fantastic national park? Share your experiences on IndependentTraveler.com.

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