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Reader Participation Day: Which Is The Most Overlooked, Or Under Appreciated, Unit Of The National Park System?


Is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial the most overlooked unit of the National Park System? Photo of Kosciuszko's bedroom by NPS.

There are nearly 400 units in the National Park System, and not all are loved the same. Which, in your opinion, is the most overlooked or under appreciated unit of all?

Might it be Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Arizona? Or Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site in North Dakota? Or perhaps it is Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Hawaii, or maybe Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Philadelphia.

Let us know and we'll try to share some love with the most undervalued unit.


I have to vote for Teddy Roosevelt NP in North Dakota. Beautiful place. But I'm glad it's a bit forgotten: the solitude is what makes it special. :-)

Isle Royale NP, the least visited of our NP's. Great scenery, fishing, hiking, and canoeing with a vibrant moose population.

I've also enjoyed some of the smaller or more obscure park sites like Salem Maritime, the Seattle branch of the Klondike Goldrush and Saugus Iron Works. There are many more and all deserve their day.

There is also remote, as opposed to obscure. I haven't been to Gates of the Arctic yet, but have hopes to get there while we're still living in Alaska, and we plan to return to the National Park of American Samoa in a year or so. We were there once when my wife worked on the tsunami recovery for them and the next time will be purely leisure - in particular, we hope to lay on the perfect beach in the Ofu unit.

Capitol Reef National Park is really out of the way, so it's not a place that you might "stumble upon" on the way to someplace else.

But it's a wonderful Park. The campground is in the middle of fruit orchards planted in an old Mormon settlement. There are some great canyon hikes there. It's surrounded by National Forest land.

Outside of the Park, there are several viewpoints where you can look across this huge "fold" in the earth's crust...very impressive.

I share MikeG's enthusiasm for Pipe Springs National Monument. It tells the story of the encounter between early Mormon pioneers and the Paiute Indians who had live there for generations.

Another site that intrigued me was Eugene O'Neill NHS in California. It is the only site in the System that I can think of that commemorates the contributions of an American playwright. It's hard to get to. When I visited, there was a shuttle bus into the site to satisfy neighbor's desire that not many private cars enter their neighborhood.

I like Booker T. Washington National Monument in southern Virgina. I was also fascinated by Minuteman Missle National National Historic Site in South Dakota. The best part of a visit there is to descend by elevator to the heavily-bunkered site where the "misslers" stood their shifts. The door to the cubicle is a huge swinging steel door to which some unknown soldier had pasted a Domino Pizza sign: "Your delivery is guaranteed in 40 minutes or the next one is free." This was a grim reminder of the Cold War.


Charles Pinckney National Historic Site just outside of Charleston - definitely.

But the rangers and volunteers at the site are so enthusiastic about.

Pipespring N.M. out of Fredonia Arizona. Only 40 acres, this important site preserves a water source critical for the Piutes for eons probably, taken and developed by early Mormons as a tithe property for the church. Teriffic preservation of important structures, nice little visitor's center, great place to bird. Big views.

As someone else commented, the NPS sites are great but I spend more time in undeveloped and underappreciated sites largely on BLM lands. More freedom to explore, camp, relax without the strict use policies of the NPS. Just sayin'.

I'll add Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Located in urban Salem, MA; people come to Salem to the witch-related attractions, a phenomenon that lasted just three months in 1692 and neglect Salem's storied maritime history. At one time Salem was the sixth largest city in America; a world-famous port that ranked with Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Charleston, SC; the richest city in America per-capita thanks to it lead in opening new areas of trade in distant lands, especially China and the East Indies. It includes historic houses, the three styles of colonial architecture, the Custom House in which Nathaniel Hawthorne worked and a recreation of an East Indiamen, the type of vessel used in the trade. The site is on the waterfront and all of these are open to the public - when and if visitors discover they exist!

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