We are looking to visit national parks or similar areas that don’t have large crowds. Most likely this will be out west. We have been to Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon. Any advice on parks or areas to visit without large crowds? We won’t be camping if that makes a difference, we will stay in motels in nearby towns.
The first one that comes to mind is Great Basin National Park. If you like exploring in the desert, Mojave National Preserve has fewer visitors than Death Valley or Joshua Tree.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is my favorite National Park. The drive through the Blue Mesa area to get there is particularly impressive, and the canyon itself is dramatic.
If you want to avoid crowds at the Grand Canyon, spend some time at the North Rim. The South Rim tends to be like Disneyland.
And as long as you’re going to Bryce (my favorite) and Zion, a less-crowded park is Capital Reef. And if you want to avoid other people entirely, go to Horseshoe Canyon.
The Black Canyon is pretty cool. Colorado Rockies. Often overlooked.
Oh. Manda beat me to it.
I don’t know what your definition of “crowds” is, but I like Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. It’s probably not as crowdless as Black Canyon (also a great recommendation), but it’s probably more crowdless than Grand Canyon or Bryce.
When? Zion is really crowded in the summer but almost deserted this time of year. North Rim and Crater Lake have historically been closed in winter but just before closing they are not too bad. I don’t remember if Bryce is closed in winter or not. There is a vast swath of Utah’s Southeast outside the parks that is as good as as a national park. Death Valley, one of the White Sands monuments and Carlsbad are open all year I think.
Good ideas so far. This would be in the summer, most likely June.
We went to the north rim of the GC so we avoided 90% of the crowds. Zion and Bryce were not that crowded either since that was also in June before most of the crowds show up.
We have been to Rocky Mountain NP but might go back since the kids have not been there.
Even the most crowded national park has areas where you can get away from people. Something like 90% of park visitors never get more than 100 yards from a paved road.
It’s true many visitors don’t go out on trails but they still clog up the roads, motels, parking lots, etc. The Smokies here in NC is the most visited national park but many people just drive through on 1 or 2 roads. Those roads can be very overloaded during fall color and holiday weekends. Luckily there are many other entrances to the park to avoid crowds.
This makes me incredibly sad.
Or the bottom.
Most Americans are not into camping or hiking , they just want to see the parks and I’m OK with that. I like the fact that trails are not overrun like the roads.
A while back I read about a guy who went to the GC NP but never actually saw the canyon itself. Not sure how he managed to do that.
Capitol Reef, Great Basin and Rocky Mountain National Parks are all good bets, with miniscule crowds compared to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or Yellowstone.
My suggestion is of course Arches National Park, which is pretty compact, visually stunning, usually sparsely populated (most times of year), and a 10 min. drive from Moab, Ut, which has a ton of restaurants, bars, hotels etc. for after your time in the park…
Every person should get to experience the majestic splendor that is Arches National Park—It is something that will be with you for life!!!
Craters of the Moon National Monument in northern Idaho. Very few visitors and some of the wildest landscape you can imagine. You’re not going to see wildlife as you would in Yellowstone and others, but you’ll have bragging rights for having visited the place. Lots of trails to hike also.
I would highly recommend Palouse Falls in the Washington Scablands area. It takes some perseverance to get to it, but is well worth the effort, especially if you are a kayaker.
Isle Royale is the least-visited National Park. Lotsa little-used trails, no roads. Moose. Squirrel.
Thanks for the advice on Arches, that is on our list.
BTW, I know Isle Royale is not visited much but I think this place might be the least visited, you have to fly to it or hike from a remote road. Other Alaska parks are similar - access is by small plane.
When I was there a few months ago, the visitor’s guide had a not-to-scale map that was worse than useless. I met one couple that was looking for where they’d parked their car.
Missing the canyon would be tough, but not impossible.
As I remember (though it’s been a while) some of the paths along the north ridge run along some “spurs”. I can see mistaking those for the Grand Canyon (since they are deep). You’d be a little underwhelmed, but hell, I expected to be underwhelmed, as nothing could live up to all that hype (except it did!).
Go Glacier, though this time of the year it is a bit nippy.