Avoiding The Crowds At National Parks
Visiting a National Park on a typical day you can expect to find multitudes of travelers coming to see the wonders which are presented. However, when you visit on a holiday weekend those expectations can be dwarfed by the reality of how many people you will actually encounter. While ideally we would all love to avoid the large crowds and find a perfect time to visit where we can have those views to ourselves for the perfect photos and the quiet solitude which can only be enjoyed when others are not around, the chances of actually achieving this euphoric notion are slim.
So what can we do to enjoy these locations on the bustling days? Are there any ways which we can have a quiet moment which almost allows us to feel as though we are enjoying the location without the interruption of others??
This rule applies to locations at any time, but especially on busy holiday weekends. If you arrive earlier in the day you are more likely to be able to capture the moment and soak in the majesty of some of these locations without interruption by countless dozens of others. In some locations such as the Grand Canyon this means rising before the sun and catching the sunrise at key points of interest at others this means coming and being one of the first guests in the gate when the park opens.
Typically families commuting to parks arrive around 10 a.m. on average so understanding this is the first step toward beating the rush and brigade of tourists. Additionally, the peak hours of most parks are around the lunch hour and lines at the gate can quickly pile up and become congested.
This is the best method if you are wanting to take on larger hikes to beat the crowd to the trailhead. If you make it to the trailhead early you are far less likely to encounter others which might not have the same idea of peaceful hiking as you do.
If you are a person who has the ability to take your time and visit the park whenever due to your location, you might consider arriving later in the day as the crowds thin out. In parks which close at later times this means arriving after 6 p.m. Tours usually wrap up by this time unless they are night sky tours and families which have spent the day exploring begin to depart to catch dinner.
Arriving later in the day you will not have time to do many of the longer hikes but you will have an opportunity to check out key view points accessible by tram or car. In order to make the most of late arrival, check tram schedules.
Visit During Non-Peak Season
While many parks do not have as many programs offered during this time, if you are looking to hike on trails that are far less crowded, find the best camping location or just catch a view uninterrupted this is the best way to truly do so. Visiting during the times which school might be in session and selecting weekdays instead of weekends you are almost guaranteed to see much smaller crowds and experience much more adventure.
If you are visiting parks such as Yosimite or Yellowstone, both known for their lengthy lines of slow moving traffic, this means you can avoid much of the time spent waiting in lines for access to popular locations.