Escaping Crowds at U.S. National Parks

Escaping Crowds at U.S. National Parks

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Last week I covered two new books that are sure to spur interest in visiting U.S. national parks.

But there’s a problem with that increased interest which comes as the National Park Service celebrates its centennial: The most popular parks are already very crowded, especially in whatever is there high season.

If you are thinking about a national park vacation, how can you avoid the crowds?

National Public Radio (NPR) tackled that question in “Long Lines, Packed Campsites And Busy Trails: Our Crowded National Parks,” a story that aired last week on its “All Things Considered” program.

(Click here to read the show’s transcript)
As NPR’s story suggests, consider skipping the most popular parks and head to one of the very scenic, but lesser-known and more lightly visited ones that are farther off the well-beaten tourist path.

Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeast California, my favorite national park in the Western U.S., only gets about a tenth of the number of visitors each year than the state’s “must-see” park, Yosemite.

Some national parks have one main season. In others, like Yosemite, off-peak season you’ll find few crowds, decent weather, plenty of activities, and an easier time finding in-park lodging and camping.

Last September when I first wrote about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, I reminded readers that in January I had passed along tips for visiting the parks in the Western U.S.

And I even suggested that those finding trouble booking rooms in our parks, consider heading north to the ones in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

(Dick Jordan has visited most of the major and many of the lesser national parks in the Western United States and in the Canadian Rockies.)

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