"I grow very fond of this place, and it certainly has a desolate, grim beauty of its own, that has a curious fascination for me." -- Theodore Roosevelt, founder of the American National Parks System (originally written about North Dakota)
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Tired of National Park traffic jams? Try these parks... 
So there your are... you've saved up money for this trip, planned it out, gotten time off from work, and driven 9 hours to get to that national park.... and when you get there, you realize that 100 million other people have the same idea as you. Wilderness experience ruined! There's no problem with crowed national parks, but it can be disappointing when you have to share a gorgeous view of a waterfall with a human traffic jam. So if you want to REALLY get away from it all, here are five of the wildest, most open, and least crowded national parks of the contiguous United States.
Wandering the Utah desert
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Annual Visitors: 604,811

Capitol Reef National Park is located in the dead center of Utah. Ironically enough, its located near two of the most visited national parks in the country; Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. The park was established to preserve a unique geological formation called a "waterpocket fold". Essentially, its somewhat of a canyon that has been warped by water over the millennia. Imagine what warped wood looks like and make it 100 miles long; that's Capitol Reef. In addition, you can follow in the footsteps of the real "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" by hiking to Cassidy Arch. The Zion Narrows are often crowded and its difficult to get a permit, why not have the same thing to yourself and hike The Narrows of Capitol Reef? This park has everything that Utah is known for with a quarter of the visitors.

Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Annual Visitors; 438,715

Canyonlands National Park marks the major confluence between two of America's wildest rivers; the Green River and the Colorado River. Essentially, it is America's other Grand Canyon. In many ways, I think this park is just as beautiful. First of all, it is completely rugged and out there. The southern districts of the park "The Maze" district and "The Needles" district are areas that are not easily accessed but contain a great amount of archaeological finds and ancient petroglyphs. The Island in the Sky District is easily reached from nearby Moab, and provides sweeping views of the canyons created by the Green and Colorado rivers. Mesa Arch is also in this district. In my opinion, pictures of Mesa Arch tend to be the most photo shopped pictures of any national park feature, which I suppose speaks to its allure.

Upon the summit of Mt Lassen, looking eastwards
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California Annual Visitors: 377,361

This national park is perhaps the most accessible of the wild bunch. It's located only about 50 miles from Interstate 5 from North and South. Lassen Volcanic preserves California's most recently erupted volcano and all the thrills you could find in Yellowstone. You can challenge yourself in climbing the 10,457ft Mt Lassen for a great view of the southern Cascade Mountain Range. Cinder Cone which is much less of a challenge is a similar recent volcano. The alpine lakes of the park are picture perfect; clear, blue, and incredibly reflective. Lastly, Bumpass Hell is an area of active boilng mudpots and fumaroles. Best of all? Even on summer days, you could be completely alone in many of these areas. 
Sutil Island off the Coast of Santa Barbara Island
Channel Islands National Park, California
Annual Visitors: 322,177

The price of a boat trip will be completely beside the point when you set foot on one of California's rugged Channel Islands and experience a truly unique environment. The national park encompasses five of the eight Channel Islands of California and each has its own adventures. For example, Santa Cruz Island has the largest number of sea caves on an island in the world. Santa Barbara Island is a massive destination for sea lions and great for birding. Kayaking and diving opportunities abound on every island. What's best about the Channel Islands is that you will get a taste of a rich and unspoiled natural Californian ecosystem. Again, this national park can only be accessed by boat.

Wheeler Peak and Great Basin National Park in the Winter
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Annual Visitors: 69,235

Ooooh boy, you know you are going somewhere wild when you're in eastern Nevada. Great Basin National Park is the most remote and least crowded national park you can reach by car in the country. A ranger made a humorous and very true comment when I visited; "First, I'd like to thank you for coming here. We're so far out here that you don't exactly wind up here by accident!" Yes, Great Basin NP is the wildest of the wild. A true adventure would be to climb Wheeler Peak (NV) which is 13,026ft tall and the tallest "true" mountain in Nevada. Also, you can see Nevada's only glacier which flanks the eastern slopes of Wheeler Peak. Caving is also possible by going on a guided trip through the famous Lehman Caves. This is a park for anyone who wants to have a real wilderness experience in a place that is absolutely devoid of crowds.
Wandering in the North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Annual Visitors: 18,725
This national park is by far, the wildest national park you can hike in the contiguous United States. Literally, you have to hike to it, there are no roads to the park. Despite this challenge, most trailheads are located only an hour and a half away from Seattle. There are hundreds of opportunities to see glaciers and a glacier carved landscape. This includes Diablo Lake which is an incredible emerald green. This park is basically the closest you can get to seeing Alaska without leaving the lower 48 states.

What about Isle Royal National Park?
Some of you read this may be national park buffs and therefore offended that I haven't mentioned Isle Royal National Park of Michigan. I try to refrain from writing about places I haven't been and unfortunately Isle Royal is still unvisited by me. I've heard nothing but good things about this island park and it receives the least number of visitors out off all non-Alaskan national parks. This is mainly due to its remoteness and the fact that its only accessible by boat or sea plane. Fear not! I will be headed towards this part of the country come early May and I will write about it afterwards!

Read. Plan. Get Out There!