How to avoid national park crowds this summer

A record 330 million people visited a U.S. National Park in 2016, and while it’s great news that people want to explore the outdoors, it means that hiking trails and scenic drives are likely to reach capacity this year– especially during the peak summer months.

If you’re planning a trip to one of America’s national parks, here are five tips to help you make the most of your visit and even enjoy some measure of solitude during your vacation. 

1. Explore the Backcountry

One of the best ways to see a national park is via the backcountry, portions of parks outside the range of the main visitor center, but still offer hiking trails and unspoiled scenery.

“Investing a little bit of time and sweat equity researching and exploring the little-known ‘secret’ places of our National Parks pays huge dividends,” says Janice Holly Booth, author of “Only Pack What You Can Carry (National Geographic, 2011)”.

“Fewer people means less noise, and when it’s quiet, you’re more likely to see wildlife, notice the subtle nuances of the landscape and hear all the sounds of nature around you.”

Camping can be a great option, since it allows visitors to be in the park during the least busy hours of evening and early morning. You can also enjoy amazing sunrises and sunsets. But, camping in the parks is also on the rise and usually requires a permit, so you’ll need to plan far ahead, booking as soon as permits become available.

You can also choose to go “glamping” with a company like Under Canvas, which has options at Yellowstone, Zion, Moab (Arches and Canyonlands parks in Utah), Glacier and Grand Canyon National Parks.

2. Go Early and During the Week

To truly beat the crowds, it’s best to arrive literally at the…

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