The Best Remote Vacation Spot in Every State

Glacier National Park in Montana


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Glacier National Park in Montana

Far Out!

Sometimes the best vacations are the ones that don't just allow us to get away from home, but to get away from other people as well, which is especially appropriate in a pandemic. Luckily, we Americans live in a sprawling country full of remote wilderness areas and other escapes from modern civilization. The next time you're craving an escape, wherever you live, consider checking out these sublimely isolated destinations, though some may still be impacted by pandemic-related restrictions.

Related: The World's Most Remote Hotels

Little River Canyon in Alabama

Alabama: Little River Canyon

Believed to be the nation's longest alpine river, the deceptively named Little River winds through the top of northern Alabama's Lookout Mountain for 12 miles, creating spectacular bluffs and scenic views that change color dramatically by the season. Whether you're just driving the Little River Canyon Parkway or stopping to camp, see waterfalls, or climb boulders at Mushroom Rock, the 15,000-acre wilderness makes for a lovely visit.

Related: The Most Beautiful River in Every State

Adak Island in Alaska

Alaska: Adak Island

It isn't hard to find remote places in America's largest state, but Adak Island is hard to get to even by Alaskan standards. Among the westernmost Aleutian Islands, Adak has a population of just over 300, is covered in snow throughout most of the year, and can only be reached by a biweekly Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage. The town of Adak has several lodging options, and the island itself offers incomparable opportunities for hunting, fishing, and birdwatching.

Related: 55 Surprising Facts About America’s Beaches

Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park

Millions of years of geological history are evident in the colorful, layered rock faces found throughout Grand Canyon National Park. Campers can enjoy over 277 miles of the mighty Colorado River, and the canyon is a full mile deep at some points and 18 miles wide. Aside from all the activities that come with water systems of that magnitude, there are also, of course, unrivaled views of the Grand Canyon. Also in the Grand Canyon, Supai Village has been home to the Havasupai Tribe since 1300 A.D. and is today known as the most remote village in the continental U.S., though travel to the village is currently suspended due to COVID-19 until the end of 2022. When travel is allowed, visitors must compete for overnight reservations and travel 8 difficult miles by foot or by mule before reaching the breathtaking town rimmed by red canyons and fed by the turquoise Havasu Falls.

Related: 30 Most Beautiful Places to Camp Across America

Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge

Arkansas: Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge

Thanks to development throughout the Southeast, this wildlife refuge in southern Arkansas ranks as the world's largest green tree reservoir, meaning the 65,000-acre hardwood forest becomes flooded in fall and winter. Campgrounds and lodging are available in the town of Felsenthal, but the best way to explore the wetlands is by boat to fish, birdwatch, and find Native American archaeological sites.

Related: 21 Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

Bodie State Historic Park, Bridgeport, California
Nagel Photography/shutterstock

California: Bodie

For a glimpse into California's Gold Rush past, look no farther than the ghost town of Bodie east of the Sierra Nevadas, maintained as a historic park in a state of "arrested decay" with even building interiors still stocked with goods. One of the Golden State's budget-travel gems, the once-booming mining town costs only $8 to visit and is accessible only by a 13-mile dirt road, with lodging available in nearby Bridgeport.

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Crested Butte in Colorado

Colorado: Crested Butte

Unlike many of the state's other ski towns, Crested Butte has managed to hang on to its remoteness, thanks mostly to its dizzying 12,000-foot elevation and location within Gunnison National Forest. The area offers a walkable mountain town and a distinguished ski resort on the mountain's opposite side, not to mention the limitless options for outdoor recreation in summer.

Canaan, Connecticut
Alexander Farnsworth/istockphoto

Connecticut: Canaan Mountain

It's not as easy finding remoteness in a state linking the metropolitan areas of Boston and New York City, but the Canaan Mountain Natural Area in northwest Connecticut boasts 2,000 acres of remote Berkshire forest teeming with rocky summits, streams, and wildlife. Lodging can be found in nearby towns such as Falls Village along the Appalachian Trail.

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware

Delaware: Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

There's little else but water, marshes, and migratory birds in the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, featuring a 12-mile wildlife drive, boardwalks, dirt trails, and the occasional 30-foot observation tower for visitors. The sights and critters in these mid-Atlantic wetlands change seasonally, so check ahead to see what animals may be out when you visit. Dover offers the best options for lodging nearby.

Wilderness Waterway

Florida: Wilderness Waterway

Canoers and kayakers generally take at least eight days to paddle through Everglades National Park's Wilderness Waterway trail, which requires permits to explore. Only for experienced boaters, the area is a maze of mangrove creeks connecting two parks' visitor centers 99 miles apart, with campsites in between including beach sites, ground sites, and "chickees," which are elevated wooden platforms with roofs.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia

Georgia: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

The largest wildlife refuge outside of the western states, the Okefenokee Swamp is a 400,000-acre refuge from human civilization especially notable for its populations of amphibians, reptiles, and also endangered species like gopher tortoises and red-cockaded woodpeckers. Visitors can explore the area by car, bike, motorboat or canoe.

Moloka'i Island in Hawaii

Hawaii: Moloka'i Island

Though just a 15-minute flight from Oahu, Moloka'i Island remains beautifully undeveloped, with no traffic lights or buildings taller than a palm tree and a population of mostly Native Hawaiians. In terms of sights, here visitors can find the world's highest sea cliffs and longest fringing reef, as well as go trekking through the rainforest waterfalls and sacred ancient sites of the Halawa Valley. (Pro tip: Check out these genius moves for seeing the Island State on a budget.)

Frank Church-River Of No Return Wilderness Area in Idaho
Frank Church-River Of No Return Wilderness Area in Idaho by Middle Fork Salmon River, Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho, United States (CC BY)

Idaho: Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area

There's no shortage of remote wilderness in this Rocky Mountain state with more peaks over 10,000 feet (and fewer tourists) than any other, but the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area stands above as the largest such federal area outside Alaska. Visitors to this rugged, 2.4-million acre backcountry must endure a week's worth of hiking to reach whitewater rapids, steep mountains, and river canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Shawnee National Forest in Illinois
Shawnee National Forest in Illinois by Scenic View (CC BY-SA)

Illinois: Shawnee National Forest

Visitors to this southern Illinois natural area can explore thousands of acres of Ozark wilderness in between tasting-room trips along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Aside from wineries, there are options for rustic cabin lodging and forest trails including the locally famous Little Grand Canyon.

An observation tower in Brown County State Park.
An observation tower in Brown County State Park. by Diego Delso (CC BY-SA)

Indiana: Brown County State Park

Nicknamed the "Little Smokies," Indiana's most visited state park still has plenty of room to get off the grid within its 16,000 acres of rolling hills and color-changing deciduous forests. Visitors come for the fall foliage, fishing, and horseback riding opportunities and can stay at the rustic Abe Martin Lodge or in several cabins and campgrounds constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Step Back in Time At the Amana Colonies

Iowa: Amana Colonies

The Amana Colonies were first settled by a persecuted sect of German immigrants called Pietists, who developed seven self-sufficient, culturally distinct villages founded on handicrafts and Old World agriculture techniques. Today, the colony is a National Historic Landmark popular with tourists for its many independent artisan shops, hearty food, and intimate B&Bs.

Related: The One Thing You Must Do in Every State

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas

Kansas: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

A fraction of the tallgrass prairies that once dominated the North American continent can still be explored at this national preserve, served by a 15-mile gravel road and more than 40 backcountry trails. Visitors can search for roving bison herds in the daytime and lodge at ranches or B&Bs in nearby Strong City.

Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area in Kentucky

Kentucky: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Spanning into northern Tennessee, this park encompasses the Cumberland River and its tributaries, which have carved the surrounding rocks over millennia to create dramatic gorges, bluffs, natural bridges, and hoodoos. There are five car-accessible campgrounds within Big South Fork, as well as numerous opportunities for kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, and whitewater rafting.

Related: 50 Picturesque Road Trips That You Can Take in a Weekend

Cocodrie in Louisiana

Louisiana: Cocodrie

One of the most remote places in the continental U.S. and a recent landing point for tropical storms, Cocodrie is a tiny unincorporated fishing village amid the marshes of southern Louisiana's swampy Terrebonne Parish. There's not much to do here except eat at the marina restaurants or charter a boat to catch your own Gulf Coast fish, shrimp, and crab.

Related: Best Fishing Spots in All 50 States

Monhegan Island, Maine

Maine: Monhegan Island

Take a ferry 12 nautical miles from the mainland to reach Monhegan, a nationally preserved rocky island little more than a mile in area with just over 50 full-time residents. More numerous are the visitors, who can check out the local art galleries, hike the grassy coastal hills, and go lobstering with help from the harborside fish house.

Smith Island Coast
Smith Island Coast by (CC BY-NC)

Maryland: Smith Island

This small Chesapeake Bay island has been getting smaller due to erosion, so visit while you still can via the passenger-only ferries from Point Lookout or Crisfield. Settled by the British in the 17th century, Smith Island is a great place to fish or birdwatch and retains its own distinct culture, including a regional dialect and delicious culinary specialties like soft-shell crab and the eight-layered Smith Island cake. 

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

Massachusetts: Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

Sometimes an island and sometimes a peninsula depending on the shifting sands, Monomoy is an 8-mile sandbar at the southern elbow of Cape Cod teeming with migratory birds, sand dunes, and fresh and saltwater marshes. The best way to explore is by one of the ferries from Chatham, which let visitors see marine wildlife as well as an abandoned Monomoy fishing village.

Beaver Island in Michigan

Michigan: Beaver Island

It costs $32.50 per adult and takes two hours to ferry to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, a tourist destination with a rich history of Mormon and then Irish settlers. Throughout the year, visitors here can enjoy kayaking the Beaver Island water trail, hike miles of scenic coastline and trails to inland lakes, or stay out late for a glimpse of the northern lights.

Boundary Waters - Oyster Lake
Boundary Waters - Oyster Lake by A. Strakey (CC BY-NC-ND)

Minnesota: Boundary Waters

The best thing to do in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is, well, canoe. The rugged, waterlogged area straddling the Canadian border contains a vast network of boreal forests and glacially carved bogs as well as 12 hiking trails and more than 2,000 campsites. For real remoteness, visit in winter for ice-fishing or dog-mushing across the million-plus acre wilderness.

Petit Bois Island

Mississippi: Petit Bois Island

Part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Petit Bois Island can only be reached by private boat, and therefore remains a premier location for catching sight of rare wildlife, especially birds. Once there, visitors can set up primitive camps on level beaches at no charge and appreciate the island's unspoiled coastal environment and dark skies.

A kayaker on the St. Francis River at Silver Mines Recreation Area in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri.
A kayaker on the St. Francis River at Silver Mines Recreation Area in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. by Kbh3rd (CC BY-SA)

Missouri: Mark Twain National Forest

Spanning 29 counties and encompassing more than one-tenth of all the state's forested area, this national forest is a sprawling complex of canopied Ozark wilderness noted for the large Greer Spring and panoramic views along the Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway. There are 350 miles of streams for kayaking and 750 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, or biking, plus wilderness camps to stay overnight.

Related: The Best State Park in Every State

Glacier National Park in Montana

Montana: Glacier National Park

Named a national park in 1910, there are about 25 active glaciers dispersed among the 1 million acres here. Glacier National Park is also home to "Going-to-the-Sun Road," a 50-mile drive that's said to offer some of the most unforgettable views in Montana. Other park highlights include pristine forests, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes.

Sandhills in Nebraska

Nebraska: Sandhills

This region of mixed-grass prairie accounts for more than a quarter of all land in Nebraska, so there's plenty of room to escape human civilization in favor of wetlands wilderness where wild turkeys, badgers, coyotes, and many more rare species roam. Catch glimpse of the preserved ecosystem all along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, or for a more in-depth exploration, camp near the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge.

Jarbidge WIlderness, Nevada
Jarbidge WIlderness, Nevada by Jeremy Michael (CC BY)

Nevada: Jarbidge

There are no paved roads within 20 miles of Jarbidge, an old mining town remote even by the standards of northeastern Nevada. About a dozen residents remain to run the town's visitor facilities like a hotel and trading post, and the town is encircled by 65,000 mountainous acres of the Jarbidge Wilderness Area ideal for backcountry exploration.

Related: 19 Spooky Ghost Towns Across America  

Pittsburg New Hampshire

New Hampshire: Pittsburg

Occupying a vast corridor of northern New Hampshire, Pittsburg is technically New England's largest town, but it's more famous as an ATV and snowmobile destination, with state- and club-funded trails spanning into Maine, Vermont, and Canada. Non-thrill seekers visiting Pittsburg can still enjoy scenic covered bridges, camping, fly fishing, and mountains vistas like the fire tower on Mount Magalloway.

DSCN6104 by jinjian liang (CC BY-NC-ND)

New Jersey: Brigantine Wilderness Area

Though still within sight of the Atlantic City skyline, this roadless tidal wetland is one of the most active flyways for migratory birds in North America, and shuts down to visitor use during nesting season, from mid-April to July. At other times of the year, visitors can reach the area by boat or explore other areas of the larger Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge by car or foot trail.

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

New Mexico: White Sands National Monument

It's easy to get lost amid the 275 square miles of shifting white gypsum sands at this New Mexico landmark, renowned for hiking, horseback riding, or even sledding down the dunes. Visitors can also enjoy the monument's radiant dunes on special full moon nights. Lodging is available in nearby Alamogordo and Las Cruces.

Related: I Drove Cross-Country During the Pandemic — Here’s What I Learned

High Peaks Wilderness in New York

New York: High Peaks Wilderness

Within Adirondack Park, a vast but much-visited region of mountains in upstate New York, this wilderness area boasts the state's confirmed most remote point, more than 5 miles from the nearest road. The area is also popular for rock climbing, cross-country skiing, and paddling along the Adirondack Canoe Route, while nearby resorts towns like Lake Placid offer more manmade amenities.

Ocracoke in North Carolina

North Carolina: Ocracoke

Though the deserted fishing village of Portsmouth Island may be more remote, Ocracoke actually has enough facilities to accommodate an overnight stay, and a nice one at that. Accessible by public ferry, the harbor village comes alive in the warmer seasons and is surrounded by scenic Atlantic dunes and salt marshes. It also has one of the best beaches in the America.

Business District of Medora (2008)
Business District of Medora (2008) by Andrew Filer (CC BY-SA)

North Dakota: Medora

Medora is a town of just over 100 people within the Little Missouri National Grassland and serves as the southern gateway to the Badlands and the strange rock formations of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The town has a rich history tied to the 26th president reflected in its evocative Old West architecture and an annual musical revue.

Related: The Most Patriotic Place in Each State

Ora E. Anderson Nature Trail and Monday Creek
Ora E. Anderson Nature Trail and Monday Creek by Dan Keck (CC BY)

Ohio: Wayne National Forest

This region degraded in the 18th and 19th centuries due to poor timbering and agricultural practices, but today the land is preserved and reforested as Ohio's only national forest, open from April through December and featuring 600 miles of trails accessible by foot, bike, horseback, and ATV. There are popular camping areas in the forest and more-sophisticated options in Athens.

Mixed Company
Mixed Company by Shirley K (CC BY-NC-ND)

Oklahoma: Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge

Once a favored bison hunting ground for Native Americans, this flat, white geological marvel is now a national wildlife refuge supporting more than 300 species of birds and 30 mammal species. Visitors can take driving tours or extended hikes along the near-featureless plain, dotted with animal tracks and ruins of an old military bombing range.

View from Meadow Pool at Breitenbush Hot Springs
View from Meadow Pool at Breitenbush Hot Springs by Mark Allyn (CC BY-SA)

Oregon: Breitenbush Hot Springs

Within the Willamette National Forest near Portland, this worker-owned co-op and retreat destination boasts remoteness in terms of geography and technology, as they restrict internet and phone service. Reservations are required to visit for the day or stay overnight at this self-sufficient resort, whose other unique offerings include organic vegetarian meals, well-being programs, hikes into the surrounding wilderness, and clothing-optional hot spring soaking.

Related: Best Natural Hot Springs in America

Twin Sisters Trail (4)
Twin Sisters Trail (4) by Nicholas A. Tonelli (CC BY)

Pennsylvania: Hammersley Wild Area

This 30,253-acre wild area is the largest roadless area in Pennsylvania, but visitors can view some of the state's most mature pine forests along eight named hiking trails, which follow old railroads used for logging in past centuries. Primitive and car camping areas abound in the surrounding Susquehannock State Forest, as do recreational opportunities for mountain biking, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.

Related: 20 Spectacular Trails That Used to Be Railroads

Block Island in Rhode Island

Rhode Island: Block Island

Named one of the Western Hemisphere's 12 "Last Great Places" by the Nature Conservancy, Block Island is both a wildlife hotspot and popular summer tourism destination 13 miles south of the Rhode Island mainland. Block Island's 1,000-person population may triple during the Fourth of July parade and other annual events, while more than half the island remains protected for plants and animals that disappeared from other parts of New England decades ago. A year-round ferry connects the island to Point Judith, with summer-only service also from Newport, New London, and Montauk.

Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina

South Carolina: Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge

Traveling by boat is the only way to access most of this national wildlife refuge, made up of salt marshes and barrier islands whose only signs of human civilization are historic lighthouses. The largest is Bull Island, which contains the waterlogged forest of Boneyard Beach and can be accessed by regular tours or a $40 ferry from Charleston or Myrtle Beach.

Related: Cheap and Free Things to Do in Charleston

Badlands National Park in South Dakota

South Dakota: Badlands National Park

There are two parts to South Dakota's stunning Badlands National Park: one, the fields of sharply eroded rock pinnacles, and two, the nation's largest undisturbed stretch of grass prairie. Paved and unpaved hiking trails let day-trippers see the park's many geological marvels and large mammals, while camping is available to get even closer.

Bald River Falls in Cherokee National Forest

Tennessee: Cherokee National Forest

With the Appalachian wildlands of Great Smoky Mountains National Park often inundated with tourists, plan a trip to Cherokee National Forest in the north instead, where you'll find similar wildlife and natural sights without the crowds. There are high-end resorts and primitive campsites alike, as well as recreational opportunities for trout fishing in the forest's many stocked streams and rivers.

Big Bend National Park in Texas

Texas: Big Bend National Park

One of the nation's least-visited national parks is also among its most stunning, encompassing more than 800,000 acres of desert flora and fauna, archaeological sites, and Rio Grande-sculpted canyons along the Mexican border. Local outfitters and lodging options in the nearby town of Terlingua help visitors explore the solitary mountain range by foot, bike, car, or canoe.

Related: 30 Incredible Photos of Ancient Ruins Across North America

Amangiri in Utah

Utah: Amangiri

It's easy to find remoteness in the patchwork of national parks that is southern Utah, but Amangiri offers much the same solitude and red rock vistas in a more luxe, privately owned environment. Straddling the unsettled Arizona border at Canyon Point, the five-star resort features modernist accommodations overlooking untouched miles of southwestern desert and makes a great home base for exploring nearby protected areas like Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks.

White Rocks Cliffs
White Rocks Cliffs by Eric Heupel (CC BY-NC)

Vermont: Green Mountain National Forest

This area of rolling northern Appalachians protects a large portion of its remote state from further human development, and there are plenty of campsites or remote rural hamlets to house visitors between hikes. For a memorable overnight stay, try booking one of the Green Mountain Club's affordable, though primitive cabins on the nationally designated Long Trail.

Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Eifel Kreutz/istockphoto

Virginia: Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests combine to create one of the largest swaths of protected land in the nation in Virginia's mountainous western portion. Beyond thousands of acres of old growth forest and the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi, the parks also include the state's highest peak at the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, where visitors can stay in rental cabins, horse camps, or traditional campsites.

Ross Lake is a large reservoir in the North Cascade mountains of northern Washington state, USA.
Ross Lake is a large reservoir in the North Cascade mountains of northern Washington state, USA. by Steven Pavlov (CC BY-SA)

Washington: Ross Lake Resort

Although it's booked up for this year, this summertime resort of floating cabins sits on a 23-mile long alpine lake within the uncrowded North Cascades National Park. Of course, visitors can also forgo the unique resort and hike or kayak along Ross Lake's considerable length, dotted with backcountry campgrounds all the way to the Canadian border. 

Related: The Prettiest Floating Cabins Around the World

Green Bank West Virginia

West Virginia: Green Bank

Green Bank isn't especially far from other towns, but it's spectacularly isolated in terms of radio signals. Transmissions are heavily restricted within the area's National Radio Quiet Zone, which means many people come here to escape their alleged suffering from a little-understood phenomenon called electromagnetic hypersensitivity amid the scenic Appalachian surroundings. Visitors can still take self-guided walking tours of the renowned Green Bank Observatory and science center.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin

Wisconsin: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

These 21 islands just off the Bayfield Peninsula in Lake Superior are best known for their windswept fields, sandstone sea caves, historic lighthouses, and well-preserved wildlife habitats. The only island not included in the national lakeshore is Madeline Island, which visitors can reach by ferry and use as an overnight launching point to explore its more remote neighbors offering primitive campsites and overnight mooring for a small fee.

Related: 18 Spectacular Lighthouses Across America

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park

Wyoming is home to the most remote mainland spot in the continental U.S., located somewhat counter-intuitively within the larger confines of the well-traveled Yellowstone National Park. Get away from the crowds by visiting in winter or better yet, hiking along Yellowstone Lake to reach the park's roadless southeastern corridor.