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National parks- stay away on the weekends?


Nov 6th, 2013, 11:41 PM
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National parks- stay away on the weekends?

We are planning our big California NP tour for the summer -starting off in SF then Yosemite ,the Grand Canyon and all the NP in that area (Bryce, monument, page,ect.), wouldn't miss Vegas and LA (ending at the parks for the kids..)
So, we got two great family rooms at YNP and at GCNP, but the dates are for the weekends. I could get different rooms(maybe not as great) but for the middle of the week.
Is it really so crazy at the weekends as I was told? (STAY AWAY from those NP during the summer weekends, were the exact words...)
Daniellathatsme is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 01:29 AM
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Seems like you're going to have to be somewhere on those weekends. Which of the other parks would you be at or would you be able to avoid parks on the weekends?

Where in Yosemite are you planning on staying?

utahtea is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 02:22 AM
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What month?
spirobulldog is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 04:18 AM
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One of the benefits of staying in the parks is that you are there early, before day trippers get there and in the late afternoon after they leave. Just plan your time at the more popular places for those times of day.

The areas that I've seen more visitors in GC are near the rim lodges, esp. Bright Angel and out at Hermit's rest (mostly because it is a small area) In any case, if you hike down one of the trails even a short way, it won't be crowded at all. Even the rim trail is not crowded once you leave the area near Bright Angel Lodge. If you don't want to hike much, take the shuttle a couple of stops out from BA and spend the time walking between stops on the rim trail.

I'v only been to Yosemite in April and we could only go to the valley area as the snow had the road to upper areas closed. It was very crowded and it was not a weekend. I would guess that the areas away from the valley would be less crowded there too.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 04:23 AM
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We're planning for Mid-July. On the weekends we could see the smaller parks (big sur near SF),( Bryce,page, zion ect.) in the GC area that would hopefully be less crowded on weekends.
The question is if there is a substantial difference during the summer months between mid-weed and the weekend..
PS -got a room at curry village. We stayed there a cupple of years ago and kinda liked the nature feeling(but- had no kids then and it was late September...)
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Nov 7th, 2013, 06:54 AM
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I really haven't seen much difference in the days of the week during all our years of visiting the national parks out west. As stated above, we find before noon and after 3 or 4 the crowds really thin out and there is still lots of daylight ours left. Best times to see wildlife too in the cooler times of the day. They head for shade during the heat.

Also, very few people get very far off the main roads/attractions. Take a trail just a little ways and you will see far fewer people.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 07:01 AM
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Connie is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 07:22 AM
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Yosemite will be packed any day of the week in July. Perhaps a bit more so on the weekends - well probably a lot if it's fourth of July weekend - but it's a very popular place especially during the summer.

If you want to get away from the crowds you can always go to the high country or go on a long hike.

I've only been to Utah NP during the off season but have heard that they get very busy during the summer. Just be careful because it will be hot at some of those parks.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 07:38 AM
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I would go in that narrow window when the weather is good and kids are back in school.....but you have kids.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 07:48 AM
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The question would never have occurred to me. As noted, move even a quarter mile away from the parking lot and the crowds thin quickly. It doesn't matter which park you visit in that regard.

The question really is what do you want to do in the parks? If you are like the other 99% who don't move more than a quarter mile from the parking lot then yeah, there will be crowds on any day of the week. Weekends won't really make much difference.

The average visitor to the Grand Canyon South Rim spends an averge of around 12 minutes actually at an overlook, taking the obligatory photos and looking into the Canyon. All you have to do is hike 15 minutes along any trail to avoid the crowds.

The North Rim gets only 10% of the total visitors to the Canyon. It's easy to avoid 90%. Most parks have more than one entry point and most have higher concentrations of visitors at only one entry point.

But again, it depends what you want to do. If you want to do what the 90% do, your stuck with your fellow visitors. If you want to do more than 90% want to do, the question doesn't come up.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 08:20 AM
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We were at Monument Valley Saturday & Sunday and the Grand Canyon on Sunday & Monday July 13 - 15 this year and didn't find the crowds to be at all bad.

We visited several of the places which you will visit. If you are interested in the trip report, it is at http://www.mightymac.org/southwest/

I strongly recomend including Antelope Canyon.

Keith is online now  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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My observation about Yosemite (I could be wrong): At any given time 90% of the people in the park are in 10% of the park.
Which means that 10% of the people are driving or in Toualamie Meadows or other less visited parts of the park.
Keep your reservations and just leave the popular spots when the crowds including tour buses arrive.
Make sure to make a stop at Hoover Dam when in the LV area.
tomfuller is online now  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 10:55 AM
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I know that Zion will also be more crowded on a weekend!! I don't frequent Big Sir, but I do know that anywhere in California is going to be busy on a weekend. Lake Powell will also be busy on a weekend. It's going to be hot...people love water when it's hot.

You're probably not going to win the battle with weekends so you might be best taking the rooms that you think will be best.

emalloy said it best. Being in the park will give you a jump start in the mornings before the crowds begin and again in the evenings when they've gone back outside of the park. This will also help you avoid the hottest part of the day and it get's pretty hot in July in Utah and Arizona.

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Nov 7th, 2013, 11:03 AM
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Frankly, I don't think Mid-July is good for Yosemite or GC. To me the single biggest attraction at Yosemite is the waterfalls. They are likely to be a trickle(if that) by then(they could be going, but only during a super snow year or a very late snow year, would they be going much by mid-July). The temp at the GC is going to be more of a bother than the crowds.

I like Bryce and Zion better than the GC(unless you plan on rafting, hiking, or even taking the mules). Bryce temps are cooler, Zion would be hot then too.

I also think most people try to do way to many places in a short time. Spend some quality time at each one and really experience them.

For that time of year, I would probably do Oregon/Washington or Glacier/Yellowstone/Black Hills. The coast as you mentioned (Big Sur area) would be ok. Heck even Lassen, Redwoods, or Sequoia/Kings Canyon would be nice Mid-July.

I've been to 34 of our National Parks, many of them multiple times. For a place like Yosemite, Sequoia, Redwoods, Bryce, Zion, Lassen, Mount Rainier, Olympics Yellowstone, Glacier, Black Hills all require 3-5 days at a minimum for me.

Two exceptions are Crater Lake and Grand Canyon. Both of those offer super stunning unmatched beauty but really not that much to do for the average person.

In Yosemite hike The Panorama Trail from Glacier Point that connects with The Mist Trail. You will see a lot of people at the beginning and end of the hike and the rest of the time is very peaceful.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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How many weeks do you have for this trip?
Jean is online now  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 05:36 PM
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Rule of thumb, with slight exaggeration: walk 100 yards on a trail away from the parking lot and you will be by yourself.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 06:12 PM
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Mid-July is prime tourist season for everyone with kids, so weekday vs. weekend is not a huge consideration, except for parks near major metro areas that see a lot of day trippers. Yosemite is probably close enough to SF to get bigger weekend crowds, but Grand Canyon isn't. If anything, Grand Canyon would get big(ger) crowds mid-day (every day) when the tour buses arrive, but they typically don't stick around for more a couple hours.

Define 'great family room'. Are you talking about larger sized, better amenities?? You'd have to take into consideration how much time you actually spend in the room while you're awake to gauge whether you need a 'great' room or just a decent room.

Get up early, avoid hiking during mid-day and you'll avoid the worst of the crowds. That holds true for any park on any day.
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