I've been to nearly every US National Park. Despite having great experiences, I don't plan to revisit these 5.

I've been to nearly every US National Park. Despite having great experiences, I don't plan to revisit these 5.
  • Over the past decade, I've traveled solo to 59 of the major US national parks.

  • Although I've visited some parks multiple times, there are a few I wouldn't return to.

  • Despite having great experiences, I wouldn't return to Glacier Bay or Haleakalā National Park.

Over the past decade, I've traveled to nearly every US national park solo, many of them multiple times. At several parks, I started planning a return trip before I even left.

But I've had just as many realizations that I probably won't be revisiting a park, either because it's not for me, it's too expensive, or it's such a bucket-list experience that it's truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Of the 59 major US National Parks I've visited so far, these are the ones I most likely won't revisit.

I loved Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, but it can be expensive and logistically difficult to visit.

Emily, wearing sunglasses, smiles on a cruise deck that's passing a glacier, as she sits in a chair and writes in a notebook.
I visited Glacier Bay National Park via a Norwegian cruise.Emily Hart

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska is one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful places on this earth. That's why some may find it surprising that I don't see myself going back anytime soon.

Although I loved experiencing Glacier Bay National Park on a Norwegian Bliss cruise, visiting the park can be both costly and logistically challenging.

Because the park is mostly made up of water, most visitors enter the park on cruise ships, which, in some cases, can cost thousands of dollars. But only two ships are permitted to enter the waters each day, making this park harder to visit than others.

New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns National Park just wasn't for me.

Emily, wearing a black-and-white checkered shirt and black shorts, stands on a rock and puts her hair in a ponytail while looking out at the mountains.
Although I love national parks, there are a few I don't plan on returning to. Emily Hart

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico is otherworldly. But the park, famed for its protection of more than 119 known caves — including the legendary "Big Room" — and nightly bat flights in the summer months, just isn't my style.

Personally, I just don't enjoy exploring caves.

New Mexico has so much to offer, and I'd rather explore White Sands National Park, Bandelier National Monument, or Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu for outdoor beauty and hiking.

Visiting Haleakalā National Park in Hawaii was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Emily sits on a rock and smiles at the camera, while the sun sets on the beach behind her.
I loved watching the sunset at the top of the Haleakalā volcano.Emily Hart

Although visiting Haleakalā National Park was one of my favorite experiences, I probably won't return anytime soon.

Watching the sunset atop the summit of the Haleakalā volcano was one of the most memorable things I've done at a national park. But I'm OK leaving it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If I return to Hawaii, there are many other destinations I'd like to explore.

In my opinion, Arkansas' Hot Springs National Park feels more like a national monument.

A yellow building and trees behind a sign that reads "Hot Springs National Park."
Hot Springs National Park is rich in history but feels more like a national monument.Kelly vanDellen/Shutterstock

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is a bit of a controversial designation in some communities of national-park lovers. That's because, unlike many other parks in the system, Hot Springs is made up of lots of man-made structures.

Although the park itself is rich in history, it definitely feels more like a national monument than a national park. Much of the park is within the city, and the hot springs are mostly developed from their natural state.

I would revisit if I were already in the area, but if not, I'd opt for a trip to the Buffalo National River or Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas.

I found Indiana Dunes National Park to be too close to industrial areas.

Emily smiles at the camera on a beach in Indiana Dunes National Park.
While visiting Indiana Dunes National Park, I was able to see industrial areas and power plants.Emily Hart

The proximity of Indiana Dunes National Park, which is about an hour outside Chicago, is a huge plus for urban dwellers. But I wouldn't make a special trip to this park again.

The dunes and park are beautiful — and great for a beach day — but still have views of industrial areas and power plants, which takes away from the awe and wonder I aim to experience at a national park.

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