11 Least Crowded National Parks of 2011; S’mores Brownie Recipe

Which National Park Will You Visit Next?opens IMAGE file

Which National Park Will You Visit Next?

Say “national park” and most people think Yellowstone, Grand Canyon or Great Smoky Mountains.But let’s change that mindset and show some love to parks like Lake Clark, North Cascades and Dry Tortugas. If looking to get away from the crowds, head to one of these 11 national parks. According to opens in a new windowvisitation figures published by the National Park Service, of the U.S.’s 58 national parks, these were some of 2011’s least crowded parks. Although it’s November, it’s never too soon to plan your summer national park vacation.

opens in a new windowLake Clark National Park & Preserve, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 5,158

opens in a new windowNational Park of American Samoa
2011 Visitation: 8,716

opens in a new windowKobuk Valley National Park, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 11,485

opens in a new windowGates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 11,623

opens in a new windowIsle Royale National Park, Michigan
2011 Visitation: 15,892

opens in a new windowNorth Cascades National Park, Washington
2011 Visitation: 19,208

opens in a new windowKatmai National Park & Preserve, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 48,939

opens in a new windowWrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 65,225

opens in a new windowDry Tortugas National Park, Florida
2011 Visitation: 75,171

opens in a new windowGreat Basin National Park, Nevada
2011 Visitation: 91,451

opens in a new windowCongaree National Park, South Carolina
2011 Visitation: 120,166

The Fixings for S'mores. Yum!opens IMAGE file

The Fixings for S'mores. Yum!

National Park Research Makes Me Hungry for S’mores

I never realized the ooey, gooey goodness of s’mores is a North American thing. It’s a sugary treat we made a few times each summer while sitting around the backyard campfire and avoiding the fire’s ever changing plume of smoke. While working in the Everglades, we hosted an international conference for a worldwide environmental organization. One of the events we coordinated was a campfire in the opens in a new windowFlamingo Campground with all the fixings for s’mores.

I was extremely honored to learn it was the first time visitors from Europe were tasting the sweet goodness of roasted marshmallows and melted chocolate smothered between graham crackers for the very first time. They were leery about the concept but after one sticky bite, they were hooked!

S’mores Brownie Recipe
Gathering data for a class about national parks I taught for opens in a new windowCharlotte County’s Lifelong Learning Institute, which is affiliated with Elderhostel and Edison State College, made me hungry for s’mores! It wasn’t practical to build a backyard bonfire. Perhaps I could have speared some marshmallows with a chopstick and roasted them over my current Yankee Candle but suspect it’d have a funky taste. So, I found and modified the opens in a new windowLoveless Cafe’s S’mores Cookie Recipe into a s’mores brownie recipe.


1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla ( opens in a new windowI make my own)
1.5 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (to be melted with butter)
2 cups marshmallows
1 cup crushed graham crackers

Preheat oven to 325.

Cream sugar and eggs in a bowl with an electric mixer.

Blend in vanilla.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, then add in small batches to the bowl with creamed eggs and sugar.

Melt the butter with 1.5 cups chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave.

Combine the melted chocolate chips and butter until blended.

Fold in the melted chocolate/butter combination with the batter along with the marshmallows and graham crackers until combined.

Pour into greased 9 x 9 inch pan.

Bake for about 13 – 17 minutes.

Cool in pan on cooling rack before enjoying.

Here’s a confession as to why this recipe is modified. I couldn’t see using a pound of sugar and 8 eggs in one recipe, so I attempted to cut the recipe in half. The cookies came out a tad runny so when in doubt, pour runny cookie batter into a pan and call it a brownie. Voila!

And yeah, being a diabetic means I should not be eating these but I’ve enjoyed them in moderation and shared the campfire-inspired dessert with others.

Have you visited any of these parks?


Author: Solo Travel Girl Admin

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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1 Comment

  1. Going to these national parks will be on my bucket list. Of course I would want to go to uncrowded places. Thanks for sharing!


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