25. Channel Islands National Park, California
Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or planning a long summer vacation, these moments in nature will leave you wanting more. The Channel Islands National Park is amazingly close to the 18.5 million people that reside in the greater Los Angeles area. Being so close to so many people, it’s truly amazing that the Channel Islands have been able to stay almost completely undeveloped. Established in 1980, it is one of the youngest national parks and includes five islands and six miles of coastline. While the only ways to access the park are via boat or small airplane, the effort is absolutely worth it. As one of the least visited national parks, you get to experience an amazing marine habitat with 145 different species completely unique to the island.
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24. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Reminiscent of a scene you’d imagine from the Sahara Desert, Great Sand Dunes National Park includes the tallest sand dunes in North America that can reach up to 750 feet tall. Established by Herbert Hoover in 1932 and expanded by Congress in 2004, this park has grown in popularity recently, with visits up 25 percent over the last two seasons. These majestic dunes were created over thousands of years, as sediment came down from the mountain ranges and settled in the now dried out lakes and streams. Recently, sand boarding and sand sledding have become extremely popular activities. Just be mindful that on particularly hot days, the surface temperature of the sand can reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Image Source: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve/Wikimedia Commons