Sometimes, you’ve gotta remind yourself that Mother Nature’s still got it. That no matter what we throw her way, the Earth still has massive, towering, free-flowing places where nature and animals all exist without a hint of human contact. Sometimes you just need to stand on a mountaintop with no other people in sight, breathe in the air, and go, “Damn, this place is a miracle.”
These kinds of experiences are the intention of our national parks. But anyone who’s visited any of the more-popular parks also knows that getting somewhere that uninhabited isn’t so easy. That spiritual feeling of isolation might require going somewhere a little less popular. Just to pick one out of a hat: How about, say, the least-visited national park in America.
Enter Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in north-central Alaska, an 8.5-million-acre swath of untamed wilderness with no roads, no signs, no infrastructure, and virtually no trace of human existence. It’s a rugged, mountainous brute of a place where you can explore land no other living person has set foot on. Getting here won’t be easy. Or cheap. Or really sensible at all. But if your idea of vacation is disconnecting completely, and experiencing the planet as it was before people took over, there might not be a better place in America for you.