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8 under-the-radar gems of the National Park Service

By: Matt Hickman on April 2, 2010, 6:38 p.m.
Sunset over the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Photo: Sarah Nystrom/National Parks Service

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Have you considered these parks?

Not to name names, but during the summer months the grand dames of the U.S. National Park Service — Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains — can get a bit claustrophobic.

There's no doubt that these more popular parks are still worthy destinations that boast great expanses of pristine wilderness. But sometimes the full parking lots, overflowing campgrounds, congested trails and traffic that plagues national parks at peak season make many crave a more secret, special place.

These eight national parks and monuments are getaways where the human traffic is less dense (in some cases, nonexistent), the landscapes just as breathtaking (like this sunset in Theodore Roosevelt National Park) and the photo-ops just as plentiful.