15 Apr


When and where to go the parks?

Summertime is by far the most popular season for visiting the national parks. Quite simply, the high altitude parks in the Western United States as well as Alaska, are far too cold for the average person to explore during the winter.  Additionally, many of them have impassable roads during this time. That’s doesn’t mean they are not open though. You can snowmobile in Yellowstone or snowshoe and cross-country ski  in Yosemite.  If you have the means and the perseverance you can make an incredible vacation during the winter at our nation’s parks.

Excluding the Florida Everglades, winter is generally the least popular time for the visiting the parks. That brings me to the summer time. The crowds can get really crazy, especially on the holiday weekends of: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and to a lesser extent, Labor Day.

Which parks get the most crowds during that time? For the most part, you name and it’s crowded.  All the high altitude Western heavyweights are going to be packed: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Grand Teton just to name a few. 

Additionally, even though day time highs will soar to over 100 degrees, all the parks in Utah will have droves of people: from Zion in the west to Arches near Moab in the eastern part of the state. Speaking of, Bryce Canyon and Arches are the two smallest national parks in the state and can sometimes get the biggest crowds.  

So, if you are planning a summertime visit, what’s the best strategy?  Well, you’ve got a few options. I’ll try not to state too much of the obvious here:

Traveling Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Peak Season Visit to the Parks

1) Avoid holiday weekends all together. If you are going to do the touristy stuff: from hotels, to day hikes and campgrounds, there is going to be a confluence of people almost everywhere you turn. 

2) If the only time you can make it is on a holiday weekend get your reservations early and try to arrive either the Wednesday or Thursday before if possible. In these types of circumstances, it is always better to arrive early and depart early than come in late and stay later.  A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of nights (Wednesday and Thursday)  in Yosemite during the week leading up to Memorial Day. While the campgrounds were packed and there were some decent sized crowds on the most popular trails, it wasn’t too crowded considering the circumstances.

I am going to stop here today & we’ll re-visit this topic tomorrow with more information about how to avoid the crowds during peak tourist. Until next time, have a wonderful night!

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