The Most Disappointing National Parks According to Visitors

Pago Pago American Samoa Hill View over the Island

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While National Parks can be downright awesome, let’s not forget about their less glamorous side – the ever-present mosquitos, irritating poison ivy, and, of course, those restrooms that can make you question your life choices. But fear not, we won’t bore you with a cliché list of dream destinations. Instead, we’ve decided to go deep into the world of crowd-sourced ratings and reviews to uncover the hidden gems… or not-so-great ones, according to the discerning voices of the internet.

Hang tight, and we’ll unveil our methodology later on. For now, get ready for some brutally honest, unfiltered wisdom from fellow explorers who’ve boldly declared that these National Parks are straight up disappointing!


American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, NP Everglades, Fl
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Everglades National Park (user rated 4.6/5) is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. With so many entry points, the user experience varies. It seems like a lot of negative reviews come from winter visitors who didn’t know that gators are generally dormant when the temperature dips below 55 degrees. Perhaps that’s why people say – “Didn’t see a single gator… overrated.” I can guarantee there are gators down there.

This visitor had a legitimate complaint about biking “Shark Valley”, which is on my Florida cycling bucket list. “Beautiful park, especially for South Florida; however, the bike rental service is horrible. The bike trip at shark valley is 15 miles round trip. The bikes they rent are not suitable for a 15-mile bike ride. They are beach cruisers, probably 10 years old, that haven’t been maintained. If you’re offering a rental service for an activity, the equipment should match the activity at hand. I mentioned this to the manager, and she replied, “poor baby, you’re not strong enough.” Apparently someone needs to teach the employees some bike basics, and please fire the manager.”

Gates of the Arctic

Photo Credit: Paxson Woelber via Wikicommons.

Gates of the Arctic (user rated 4.6/5) is the country’s northernmost park. It protects an expanse of pure wilderness in Alaska’s Brooks Range and has no park facilities. Something tells me this park isn’t making any “Best Parks for Kids” lists anytime soon.

Judging from the comments, it sounds like some of the negative experiences were from people not expecting a pure wilderness experience. One user gave a one-star review and wrote – “Pretty but couldn’t find a Starbucks.” That said, what do you expect from people who frequent chain coffee stores?

American Samoa

Pago Pago Hill View over the Island
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

American Samoa National Park (user rated 4.6/5) has been showing up on both must-see and worst lists for the same reasons. It’s remote, wild, and beautiful, almost like you’re not in America anymore. According to some readers, they were expecting more of a “mainland” experience –

“The visitor’s center is lacking, although being one of the nicer interiors on the island. The visitors center is across from a run-down gas station. The visitor’s center is not located in the park. The park is all over, and driving directions and signs are sparse. The national park service really doesn’t care about the park, and you can tell. Should be ashamed. Lots of potential. I believe the park is on a lease; weird as all heck. If you’re not bucket listing all, I would pass. It’s a pretty place. Run down. Like the poster says, “not worth the hassle.””

Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Indiana Dunes National Park (user rated 4.6/5) is a protected area of Sand Dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan, with 15 miles of coastline and 50 miles of trails. Why does this relatively new National Park keep getting such low marks? Here’s what one disgruntled visitor had to say:

“Whether a beach visitor or an avid hiker, I would recommend that you skip this National Park. There are no awe-inspiring sights and hardly any parking. The majority of the National Park beach is located within the town of Beverly Shores. Although there are miles of beach, there is hardly any parking… As for hiking, if you are accustomed to hikes that lead to spectacular views or interesting sites and sounds, you will be severely disappointed. The best trail is the Little Calumet River Trail that begins at Chellberg Farm (this trail will allow you to see the Little Calumet River, some forested lowlands, a small prairie area, power lines, and the sounds of nearby railroads, highways, and steel mills). If you really want a good “Dunes” hike, I would recommend skipping the national park and hike Trail 9 at the Indiana Dunes State Park.”

Kobuk Valley

Swimming_the_Kobuk by Western Arctic National Parklands, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: Western Arctic National Parklands, CC BY Wikimedia Commons

Kobuk Valley (user rated 4.1/5) is definitely the outlier here. It’s a whole half point below the next closest review. It sounds like some people didn’t think the views justified the visit – “Desert (yawn)” and “Too Cold” were tagged on two of the one-star views, but there wasn’t anything more descriptive.

A three-star review said, “It is very unique (like an arctic desert should be)… but it’s so mysteriously silent and lonely.” I think the subtext of this balanced review might say it all. Words like “unique”, “silent”, and “lonely” hint at an amorphous malaise where life is holding on by a thread.


Florida wetland, Airboat ride at Everglades National Park in USA
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Even the “lowest ranked” National Parks still have broad appeal. It sounds like some of the unhappy customers weren’t prepared for the weather or with well-grounded expectations. However, the park system is underfunded and overcrowded, so parking issues, signage, and poor equipment will continue to be a problem as visitation is surging faster than budgets.

-This data was crowdsourced from the Google Map pins for each park in July 2023.-

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Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman aka Coleman Concierge. In a nutshell, we are a Huntsville-based Gen X couple sharing our stories of amazing adventures through activity-driven transformational and experiential travel.



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Meet Ed & Jenn

Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman, and together we are Coleman Concierge. It is our goal to inspire you to get out, expand your world, and to seek adventure, even in your own backyard.

We deeply believe in the transformational power of travel. Our tagline is amazing adventures for ordinary people because we believe that you don’t have to be super rich, super fit or super anything to have an amazing adventure. Expanding your comfort zone and trying new things will pay huge dividends in both health and happiness.

We advocate for sustainable and ethical travel and truly believe in the power of travel to transform both ourselves as well as the world around us.


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