Tag Archives: peak

Tips for Peak Season Travel in Our National Parks

20 Apr

Today, we’ll continue exploring ways to avoid the crowds while visiting the parks during peak season. To reiterate, so far, we’ve discussed:

• Avoiding holiday weekends
• Arriving earlier in the week as opposed to staying later
• Making all your reservations at least 3 months in advance
• Visiting less popular parks
• Vacationing after Labor Day

Another sure way to avoid the crowds is to utilize the first three hours in the morning and the last two hours before sunset. Get up, get out, and get going early! Even the most popular trails aren’t busy at time of day. Want to experience the geyser basins at Yellowstone without the crowds? Then go at 7am. I can assure you that you won’t regret it. If you do see people at this time, they are probably landscape and nature photographers.

Let me give you a quick example, a few years back I was fortunate enough to visit Zion National Park on Easter weekend. What I saw there I just wasn’t prepared for. The crowds were so enormous, I couldn’t get a parking spot inside the park. The town of Springdale, which sits just outside park HQ, was basically one large traffic jam. The shuttle buses were overflowing with tourists. The rangers estimated the park saw a quarter of a million visitors over that Saturday and Sunday alone.

During that day, I tackled what is arguably the park’s most famous and daunting hike, Angel’s Landing. For those of you who haven’t made the trek, let me just say this hike isn’t for beginners and can be extremely dangerous, in a few spots there are thousand foot drops. Well, on that particular day, there were literally hundreds of people on that trail. I honestly don’t know the mountains could have accommodated many more.

Fast forward a year or two and I am blessed to visit during June, certainly one of the most busy months of the year. My friend and I did the hike closer to sunset that day, and to our amazement there was practically no one on it. My point is this: utilize your time wisely even if it means getting up extra early or staying out late.

sunset is the best time to visit Angel's Landing

Take a nap during the day if you must, eat at off-peak hours, take a scenic drive over lunch, and whatever you do make sure you utilize “golden hours” as we landscape photographers call them. Tomorrow, I’ll continue on this subject we another invaluable tip on how to maximize your stay while visiting the parks.

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