Father and Baby Daughter in The Beautiful Natural Scenery of Glacier National Park's Avalanche Lake Area During the Summer in Montana, USA.
Bkamprath/istockphoto

The Quietest Places to Vacation Around the World

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Father and Baby Daughter in The Beautiful Natural Scenery of Glacier National Park's Avalanche Lake Area During the Summer in Montana, USA.
Bkamprath/istockphoto

Sound Decisions

From the blare of jet planes to the drone of TVs, modern society bombards us with sound. Many travelers are seeking a little peace and quiet, and since the pandemic, travel spots away from crowds. Quiet Parks International’s mission is to “save quiet for the benefit of all life,” says co-founder Gordon Hempton. The organization has identified the top wilderness and urban parks, communities, and trails in the world. In these places, solitude and tranquility go hand in hand. The quietest places to visit include both accessible and aspirational destinations. Read on for peaceful places to vacation.


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Yilan, Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Are
TopPhotoImages/istockphoto

How to Find Peace and Quiet

To find their designated peaceful spots, the all-volunteer Quiet Parks International begins with a nighttime view of the Earth. “Ambient light pollution is the evil cousin of quiet places,” Hempton says. “Where we find ambient light, we find industry and population centers.” The group then consults transportation and aeronautical charts. “When it comes to wilderness areas, aviation is the number one noise polluter of those environments,” Hempton says. They dive deeper looking for roads, gas drilling, signs of mining, and agriculture — all sources of noise. Once potential idyllic places emerge, the team completes on-the-ground research to identify the most peaceful places to vacation. Does advertising these places bring more people — and thus more noise — to them? Yes, says Hempton. But it’s all about how you visit.

 

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Zabalo River
Quiet Parks International

Zabalo River

Ecuador

This riparian territory earned a hat tip from Quiet Park International due to its “healthy balance of bioacoustics activity with average noise-free intervals lasting several hours,” according to the group’s website. Hempton observes, “It’s the least noise polluted place I’ve been, and I’ve circled the globe three times. It’s a modern-day Eden.” The Cofan Nation welcomed the Quiet Park designation as the indigenous peoples encourage ecotourism to their lands.  


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Haleakala Sunrise
P_L_photography/istockphoto

Haleakala National Park

Hawaii

This park has passed Quiet Park’s rigorous test and is awaiting its official award. “It’s been called the quietest place on Earth,” Hempton says. The park’s namesake volcano on Maui rises more than 10,000 from the sea. Neither commercial jet traffic nor air tours are allowed to fly over the crater, which leaves it free from noise pollution. “The crater sand naturally absorbs the sound. When the wind isn’t blowing, the sound of your own body prevails — your footsteps, your heartbeat, your breath,” Hempton says.  


Related: Surprising Facts About America's National Parks

Evening Paddle
GeorgePeters/istockphoto

Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Minnesota

This more-than-a-million-acre wilderness area within Superior National Forest wilderness outside Duluth has passed Quiet Park’s analysis and is awaiting award. Largely free from noise pollution, here other sounds reign. “I think two of the hallmark sounds that define the wilderness would be the howl of wolves at night and the loons,” Hempton says. “The duet of a pair of mated loons is the most inspiring statement that I’ve ever heard from another lifeform.”


Related: 21 Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

American Prairie Reserve in 2021 by Christopher Michel
American Prairie Reserve in 2021 by Christopher Michel by Cmichel67 (CC BY-SA)

American Prairie Reserve

Montana

This expansive shortgrass prairie unfolds from the Missouri River across Montana’s Great Plains. Wildlife is more plentiful than people here, from the American bison to at-risk species such as the swift fox. Quiet, as Hempton reminds, is not just about us. “Wildlife is as busy communicating as we are,” he says. “Preserving quiet for them is even more urgent.”

Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
mysticenergy/istockphoto

Grasslands National Park

Saskatchewan, Canada

This national park protects stretches of untouched prairie that appear just as they did before farmers transformed similar landscapes across Canada. “Grasslands National Park is the world’s premier example of North American Prairie and one of Canada’s newest national parks,” Hempton says. “Listening opportunities are also unsurpassed for the springtime dawn chorus of songbirds as well as bison grunts (traveling miles) and some of the best examples of prairie grass winds to be heard. Truly an aural oasis.”
 

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Father and Baby Daughter in The Beautiful Natural Scenery of Glacier National Park's Avalanche Lake Area During the Summer in Montana, USA.
Bkamprath/istockphoto

Glacier National Park

Montana

Known for its rugged landscape, this national park along the Canadian border has limited jet flight traffic since 1999. “Glacier National Park has long been considered one of the least noise-polluted of American National Parks owing to advocacy by organizations such as QuietGlacier!,” Hempton says. “Personally, it is one of my favorite parks for listening over great distances to the sounds of entire valleys owing to the special acoustic properties of the stratified air layers over lakes that allow for unusually clear sound propagation.”


Related: These Glacier National Park Vacation Rentals Get 5-Star Reviews from Renters

Lonely Oryx in Namib Rand Nature Reserve Panorama Namibia
Mlenny/istockphoto

Namibrand Nature Reserve

Namibia

This southern Namibian preserve protects the distinctive ecology and wildlife of the Namib Desert. The preserve encourages slow travel and keeps visitors to a minimum, all of which protects the silence. Hempton says the data suggests “an award as a Wilderness Quiet Park is almost certain due to the lack of air traffic and limited land traffic plus arid lands with low humidity have less elastic properties than humid atmospheres and this means that whatever sounds that may be there do not propagate as far or as clear.”

European Bison(Bison bonasus bonasus) looking from behind tree
Aleksander/istockphoto

Bialowieza Forest

Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this preserve along the Poland/Belarus border protects primeval forest. The towering conifers and broad-leafed trees are also home to the European bison. The area is under consideration for Quiet Park status.

Big Bend Ranch State Park
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Texas

Stretching along the U.S./Mexico border, this state park is a cousin to the better-known national park in the same area. The high-desert landscape offers incredible solitude, particularly when visitors drop into its remote canyons.


Related: This Is the Best State Park Near You

Yangmingshan National Park
Moment Capsule Photography/istockphoto

Yangmingshan National Park

Taiwan

Quiet Parks International named Yangmingshan National Park the first urban quiet park in the world. “An urban park won’t be the same experience as a wilderness. There will always be the booming of traffic,” Hempton says. “But we do expect to hear our own footprints and listen to a songbird in its full intonations.” Yangmingshan National Park outside Taipei meets this standard, Hempton says. Particularly important to the Taiwanese who live there, Hempton says, is the ability to hear the wind flowing through stands of bamboo.

Hampstead Heath and London skyline
georgeclerk/istockphoto

Hampstead Heath

London, United Kingdom

A 790-acre public space only 4 miles from London’s center, Hampstead Heath includes grassy expanses, ponds, and woodlands. Hempton says the landscape appeals for the gentle sounds of wind moving through broad-leafed trees and sound propagating over water.

Montnegre, Maresme
Rigole

Parc del Montnegre i el Corredor

Spain

At this urban park outside Barcelona hiking trails traipse through woodlands and mountain-biking single tracks pedal past farms. “The park offers a true sense of wilderness in the midst of this densely populated part of Spain,” according to the Quiet Parks’ website.

Dender-Mark Quiet Area
Quiet Parks International

Dender-Mark Quiet Area

Flanders, Belgium

From the time of its founding 20 years ago, this area has provided silence, stillness, and peace. In a press release announcing the designation, Dirk Sturtewagen, director and co-founder of partner organization Waerbeke, observed, “By recognizing and awarding tranquil areas and inviting people to listen to the outer quiet, we help them to find the source of silence within themselves.”

Green Mountain Farm
Quiet Parks International

Green Mountain Farm

North Carolina

Quiet Parks International named Green Mountain Farm outside Asheville the first quiet community in the world. The 333-acre intentional community focused on tranquility from the start. “They have strict community codes and regulations to limit noise pollution, and have fantastic natural sounds,” Hempton says.

Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area in Yilan, Taiwan
liuyushan/istockphoto

Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area

Taiwan

Once an area for logging, this forest has returned to its natural state. The idyllic landscape is covered with Taiwanese beech trees. The stands occasionally break to reveal alpine lakes and hot springs. A dedicated Silent Trail deepens this place’s devotion to tranquility.

Niobrara River in Nebraska - aerial view
marekuliasz/istockphoto

Niobrara Wild & Scenic River

Nebraska

The Niobrara Wild & Scenic River flows for 76 miles through northern Nebraska. “This area defied my expectations,” Hempton says. The Quiet Parks team was “astounded. It was an amazing quiet experience. We felt we glimpsed what it was like to be an early pioneer arriving on the plains,” he says. This trail has earned its place as a Quiet Park and is awaiting its award.  


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