Lesser-known public lands and waters offer off-the-beaten-path recreation

For adventurous travelers and residents alike, America’s lesser-known public lands and waters are off-the-beaten-path places for invigorating outdoor recreation. National wildlife refuges, national forests, national marine sanctuaries and national conservation lands typically are uncrowded, reflective spaces. From the Caribbean to Alaska and from Maine to the Pacific, they are ideal places for paddling, diving, fishing, hunting, birdwatching, wildlife photography or just strolling in the great outdoors. Below are some wonderful options:

Plan a Visit to a National Wildlife Refuge
managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Brown pelicans at Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon.

Plan a Visit to a National Forest
managed by the U.S. Forest Service/USDA

Otter Creek Wilderness within Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia.

Plan a Visit to a National Marine Sanctuary
managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Michigan.

Plan a Visit to a National Conservation Land
managed by the Bureau of Land Management

Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, a national conservation land in New Mexico.

Go to Recreation.gov to explore public lands further and make select reservations

Story Tags

Landscape photography
Scuba diving
Wildlife refuges
Wildlife viewing