If you love national parks, chances are you’ve thought of buying a house near one. After all, that way you could quickly make your way into the park for the day; and if you’re retired, having a house near a national park means you could visit that park whenever you want.
Of course, there’s just one problem: Paying for that house.
Consider Grand Teton National Park, for example. The average cost of a house in Wyoming is $276,278, but if you want to live in Moose, Wyoming, just outside Grand Teton National Park, that luxury comes at a steep cost. Indeed, the average cost of a house in Moose is a whopping $1.35 million — or almost 400 percent more than the state average, according to research from Outforia.
Fortunately, that isn’t the case with all national parks. To find out what it would cost to buy a house near a national park, Outforia used Zillow to record the average cost of property in the nearest town to each national park. The group then compared that price to the average price of a house in the state as a whole.
Surprisingly, the cost of a house near some national parks is quite affordable. In fact, the average house near some national parks can even be bought for less than half what houses elsewhere in the state cost.
So let’s jump right to it. Keep reading to learn about the 10 most affordable national parks to live near.
1. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
The remote and rugged Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota isn’t necessarily easy to reach. Plus, much of the 218,055-acre park can only be reached by boat, but visitors are rewarded with numerous exposed rock ridges, cliffs, wetlands, forests, streams, and lakes.
The park’s remoteness is reflected in its visitation numbers. In 2020, for instance, only 263,091 people visited the park. Most of those visitors traveled to Voyageurs in the summer months to hike, camp, boat, and fish.
If that sounds like your idea of heaven, get ready for some great news. Outforia’s research shows that Voyageurs is the U.S. national park with the best value property.
Here’s why: While the average price of a house in Minnesota is $305,474, the average house in International Falls — just 2 miles outside Voyageurs — costs just $78,128, according to Outforia’s research. That’s 74.4 percent less than average home prices across the state.
2. Congaree National Park, South Carolina
The 26,276-acre Congaree National Park used to be known as Congaree Swamp, which gives you an idea of what the park is like. While the park is a wetland, it also is the largest remaining intact expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the southeast U.S.
In 2019, 159,445 visitors traveled to Congaree, which is only 22 miles from Columbia, South Carolina. Those visitors were able to walk through the park on a boardwalk raised 6 feet above the water — and, of course, canoe and kayak.
Interestingly, Congaree is the second-best value park when it comes to living nearby. While the average cost of a house in South Carolina is $230,901, the average cost of a house in Eastover — 8 miles from Congaree — is just $67,192, according to Outforia’s research. That’s 70.9 percent lower than the South Carolina average.
Congaree National Park made former park ranger Greg Jackson’s list of best national parks to visit in fall 2021.
3. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
In 2019, 643,588 people traveled to Petrified Forest. If you’re not familiar with the park, here’s how it got its name: More than 200 million years ago, trees and vegetation covered much of the area. Then volcanic lava destroyed the forest, and the forest’s remains were embedded into sediment made up of volcanic ash and water. Millions of years later, erosion revealed the petrified logs.
The park, which also provides stunning views of the Painted Desert, showcases more than 13,000 years of human history. Notably, that includes Puerco Pueblo — a nearly 800-year-old, 100-room building — and numerous prehistoric pottery fossils.
Petrified Forest is 115 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona, but it’s just 18 miles from Holbrook. While the average cost of a home in Arizona is $366,343, a home in Holbrook can be bought — on average — for $145,972, according to Outforia’s research. That means the price of a home in Holbrook is 60.2 percent cheaper than the state’s average.
4. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
As you would expect, Hawai’i Volcanoes, which is located on Hawaii Island (the Big Island), gets its name from its two active volcanoes: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Active for more than 700,000 years, Mauna Loa rises 13,677 feet above the sea — but its base is 18,000 feet below sea level. That makes it the world’s most massive mountain by volume.
In 2019, 1.3 million visitors traveled to Hawaii Volcanoes to see the volcanos, as well as the park’s majestic rainforest and grasslands.
Hawaii Volcanoes may be 45 miles southwest of Hilo, but it’s only 10 miles from Volcano, Hawaii. Outforia explains that the average price of a house in Volcano is $305,976. That’s 58.83 percent less than the average price of $743,125 for a house in Hawaii.
5. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Their journey was well worth it. Those visitors were rewarded with stunning views of 527 square miles of canyons, arches, buttes, rivers, and mesas. Canyonlands truly must be seen in person to be appreciated.
Canyonlands is only about 30 miles outside Moab, Utah, and the park actually has a Moab address. However, Monticello is a little over 50 miles away. Although the average cost of a house in Utah is $477,484, the average cost of a house in Monticello is $202,621 — 57.56 percent less, Outforia explains.
6. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier, with its staggering height of 14,410 feet above sea level, is the tallest mountain in Washington state and the Cascade Range of mountains in the Pacific Northwest. On clear days, it even dominates the southeast horizon for Seattle and its neighbor, Tacoma.
Indeed, Mount Rainier National Park is just over 100 miles from Seattle — and it’s even closer to Tacoma. That proximity to major cities helps explain why more than 2 million people typically travel to Mount Rainier each year.
Want to have spectacular views of Mount Rainier and practically live next door to the wilderness? It won’t set you back as much as you might expect. Outforia explains that Mount Rainier is just over 30 miles from Packwood. The average price of a home there is $227,367, which is 57.08 percent cheaper than the average price of a home in Washington, which is $529,768.
7. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Located 130 miles north of Sacramento, California, at the southern end of the Cascade Mountains, Lassen Volcanic is, of course, known for its numerous volcanoes. The park is also home to thermal features, including splattering mud pots, boiling springs, steaming ground, and hot sulfurous gases rising from steaming fumaroles.
In 2020, 542,274 visitors traveled to Lassen to see its volcanoes and thermal features, as well as meadows, lakes, and majestic views from the rugged mountains. They also explored the park’s more than 150 miles of hiking trails.
Lassen may be a few hours’ drive from Sacramento, but Chester, California, sits just 46 miles outside of the park. Here’s why that’s important. The average price of a home in California is $700,828, but the average price of a house in Chester is 56 percent less, Outforia explains: $308,397.
8. Kings Canyon National Park, California
Known for its rugged foothills, huge mountains, deep canyons, and groves of giant sequoia trees, Kings Canyon National Park is adjacent to Sequoia National Park high in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
The park’s most famous tree is the General Grant Tree, which is about 268 feet tall and 40 feet in diameter. General Grant is an estimated 1,700 years old.
In 2019, 632,110 visitors traveled to Kings Canyon to see the sequoias as well as the park’s namesake: Kings Canyon, a rugged glacier-carved valley more than a mile deep. While there, visitors are also treated to magnificent views of multiple 14,000-foot peaks, high mountain meadows, and fast-flowing rivers.
Hume is just 30 miles outside the park. As was previously noted, the average cost of a house in California is nearly $800,000. But in Hume, the average cost of a house is $321,356, according to Outforia’s research: 54.15 percent less.
9. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
The ancestral Pueblo people built communities on the mesas and in the cliffs of what is now known as Mesa Verde National Park for more than 700 years. Today, the 52,000-acre park protects the cultural heritage of 26 tribes — while offering visitors a view into the past.
In 2019, more than 556,000 people traveled to the park to see more than 5,000 archaeological sites. What’s more, the park is home to more than 600 cliff dwellings, which show what life was like for the people who lived there.
Mesa Verde is located about 35 miles west of Durango, but if you’re familiar with Colorado, you already know you won’t find economical housing there. Instead, you need to consider Cortez, which is 22 miles outside the park.
As Outforia points out, the average price of a house in Colorado is $501,345. The average price of a house in Cortez is just $233,393 — or 53.45 percent less than the state average.
10. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Located 37 miles outside Palm Springs, California, Joshua Tree is very popular. In fact, it was the tenth most visited national park in the U.S. last year, drawing 2.4 million visitors. In 2019, about 2.8 million visitors traveled to Joshua Tree to enjoy activities such as hiking, camping, photography, rock climbing, and simply enjoying the desert scenery — including its spectacular sunsets.
Joshua Tree includes parts of both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. Notably, the park is also home to most of the world’s Joshua trees, which explains its name.
As noted above, the average cost of a house in California is nearly $800,000. The town of Joshua Tree, less than 5 miles outside the park, however, is a different story. The average cost of a house there is $344,211, 50.89 percent less than the state average, according to Outforia’s research.
Note: As long as you’re thinking about living near a national park, be sure to check out all of our U.S. national park coverage.