Planning a camping trip is quite a challenge in itself, especially if you want to escape the crowds. During peak season, you may think this is one impossible task. Most people eye the summer months to escape to America’s national parks and embrace the peace and quiet the wilderness offers. But with hordes of people who want the same thing, this may be close to unattainable. On a sunny summer weekend, expect to see long bus lines, traffic jams, and many people cramming popular trails. Here are a few tips on how you can escape crowds in national parks this summer.
Choose your dates wisely
Going in the off-season can be the easiest way to avoid the crowds. Especially for the most popular national parks like Zion, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon, which can be way too busy during the summer. Not only are there fewer crowds, but these parks are more beautiful in early spring and late autumn with better weather.
If you really want to go to the most popular national parks in the summer, remember to avoid the weekends as much as possible. It’s still recommended to visit during the week to ensure that there are fewer crowds. Keep in mind that long weekends, discounted entry days, and special park events are certain to be extra crowded. If going on weekdays is not possible, try to go during other weekends.
Book activities early
There are various activities you can do in national parks. For first-time campers, guided tours and adventurous excursions are great ones to try. These can get fully-booked quickly, especially during peak seasons, so make sure to make your reservations as far in advance as possible. One example is the Grand Canyon helicopter tour which not only offers you a clear view of the park, but also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the view without tons of crowds around you!
Get an early start
Booking off-season is easier said than done, so if your schedule is uncompromisable, it’d be best to rise and shine with the sun. Even better if you can get up before dawn and find the best spot to view the sunrise and head out to enjoy your day early. Book your activities earlier in the morning, trying to avoid not only the crowds but also the extreme heat of the sun. Getting dehydrated is one of the last things you want happening when you’re out. An early morning hike is also one option you can do if there are still crowds gathering while trying to view the sunrise. You’ll thank yourself for skipping the midday madness.
Consider less popular activities
Your enjoyment should still be the number one priority, but other people are likely itching to pick the most popular activities as well. It’s a good compromise to pick the less popular activities that are also fun and worth your time.
Backpacking overnight is a worthwhile experience, especially if you plan on avoiding large crowds. Looking at the stars at night while eating s’mores around a campfire is a traditional activity you shouldn’t miss. Afterward, sleeping inside a tent in the middle of the forest is a great way to rest, unwind, and relax your mind.
Explore someplace new
We know you want to go and explore the most popular national parks, but there are still tons of incredible places out there, including the less busy national parks. Try researching on which national parks are near your locale. You may find a new gem, possibly even your next favorite destination.
Here are some less explored vacation options:
- The Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is spectacular. It’s the third most visited National Park in the US. Colorado is full of winter resorts that are pretty quiet even in the summer.
- Zion National Park is the fourth most visited park. You can still get away from the crowds by, for example, checking out the Kolob area. It has fewer crowds but the hikes are spectacular.
- The fifth most popular park is the Lassen Volcanic National Park. It’s in far-away California, but Lassen is also a stunning destination with spectacular hikes, volcanoes, and forests.