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wanderlust33 Feb 14th, 2007 10:05 AM

Un-touristy National Parks
 
Id like to explore a national park out West with my family this summer, but am turned off by hordes of tourists. Are there any undiscovered gems out there? Also, anybody know of any amazing state parks? Thanks!

enzian Feb 14th, 2007 10:06 AM

North Cascades National Park?

GoTravel Feb 14th, 2007 10:07 AM

National Parks will be overrun during summer.

If you don't want crowds, don't travel Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Can you travel earlier or later?

Even the weeks right after Memorial Day or right before Labor Day aren't quite as busy.

rkkwan Feb 14th, 2007 10:12 AM

Big Bend?

KE1TH Feb 14th, 2007 10:24 AM

Capital Reef National Park in Utah. I drove for miles before meeting another car.

It lies between the National Parks that surround Moab (Arches and Canyonlands) and the southern Utah parks (Bryce and Zion)

There are sections of Canyonlands National Park that are considered the most remote parts of the entire lower 48 (The Maze). But I don't remember Island in the Sky or The Needles sections being overly crowded either, and I was there in the July timeframe (but this was in 1994).

Keith

sunbum1944 Feb 14th, 2007 10:26 AM

Lassen Volacano National Park is interesting and one of the least visited parks. Its in a beatiful part of the country with close access to Mt Shasta and Lake Shasta.
I havent spent anytime there but did do a drivethrough once- had bubbling mud pots and some geysers. Lots of other things to do in the area

wtm003 Feb 14th, 2007 10:26 AM

I went to Yellowstone over the 4th of July and it is easy to avoid the crowds. Get out early and get out of your car. It is amazing how the crowds disappear once you get on a trail. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy under a blue sky and skip the wait at restaurants.

J_Correa Feb 14th, 2007 01:38 PM

Sequoia National Park isn't particularly crowded. We were there for 4 nights in July a few years ago and didn't run into any of the traffic you see at some national parks, esspecially Yosemite.

We stayed in one of the major campgrounds and even that wasn't bad. There were people around camp and the main things to see right off the road, but it was really easy to get away from everyone.

trippinkpj Feb 14th, 2007 01:43 PM

I was going to say Lassen and Sequoia, which have already been posted. :-)

PaulRabe Feb 14th, 2007 01:56 PM

I don't know if I'd count this as "out West," but Isle Royale NP and Voyageurs NP are rarely visited NP's.

Also, you might want to look at National Wildnerness sites. By law, these places can have nothing human-made on them beyond trails; and, thus, tourists can be quite rare. Some of these are in or next to national parks, some are in national forests.

RedRock Feb 14th, 2007 01:56 PM

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14012921/

According to MSMBC this is a list of the top 10 least crowded.

You could add many more I am sure. A couple I can think of to add to the list are Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. You can always go to the busy parks in September after school has started, fewer people....

TheWeasel Feb 14th, 2007 03:30 PM

Depends on your definition of explore. As wtm003 mentioned, if you get up and hit the trails early, you'll avoid most people, at least until the return hike to your car. If you don't want to hike, that'll definitely limit your options for avoiding tourists.

North Cascades is one of the least-visited parks. Big Bend is too, but I would avoid the desert areas in summer because of the heat. That leaves the mountains to explore, and most everyone else that visits Big Bend has the same idea so I don't know that you'd avoid most of the people.

I have a link at home for the NPS' visitation statistics. You can search by park by month, so it would give you a pretty good idea of how many visitors to expect in the summer months. I'm curious as to how the article RedRock cited came up with their list, because I've been to Arches in June and it was certainly not uncrowded. The trails in Arches are mostly pretty short hikes, so it's almost impossible to get away from people there.

enzian Feb 14th, 2007 03:37 PM

MOre on one part of North Cascades NP, for those who are interested:

http://www.nps.gov/archive/noca/focus/focus.htm

From Stehekin you can hike, mountain bike, kayak, horseback ride, . . . .

brushfire Feb 14th, 2007 03:42 PM

Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, Death Valley (probably not a good idea in the summer...Joshua Tree either, I guess)

elnap29 Feb 14th, 2007 03:53 PM

In 2005 my husband insisted we go to GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK in Nevada, as he had been there many times with male friends over the years. I was so surprised how much I loved it! It was summer, there were very few people, and the way the camping is set up, you are not that aware of other people in the park. You can camp at your choice of altitudes, the park is pretty much vertical with outstanding views. And then you can tour Lehman Caves. Lots of trails to explore also.

In most parks you can avoid the hordes of people by getting away from the center. In YOSEMITE, stay mainly out of the Valley floor and explore hikes to pristine lakes above timberline.

In ZION, visit KOLOB CANYON. Actually, Zion never feels crowded to me because crowds are controlled by not allowing cars in. BRYCE and Zion never feel particularly crowded, especially if you stay inside the park.

Also I would recommend CANYONLANDS (Arches isn't that bad; most people just drive through), CAPITAL REEF and ESCALANTE.

I'm also a big fan of the coastal redwoods, preferring AVENUE OF THE GIANTS to the National Park. There is a National or State Forest visitor center in Meyers Flat that recommends lovely walking trails. If you get off the road 50 feet you will probably not see any people at all. Most never get out of their car. You can camp or stay in one of the nearby towns.

Toucan2 Feb 14th, 2007 04:23 PM

Just as a side note, you might find the books by Nevada Barr fun to read as you get ready to visit national parks. They are a light read, and each one is set in a different national park so you do learn a bit about them as well.

Dayle Feb 14th, 2007 05:32 PM

Wanderlust,

Even the most popular parks are untouristy, if you just walk a 1/4 mile away from any parking lot!

Enjoy

NeoPatrick Feb 14th, 2007 05:36 PM

People complain about how crowded Yosemite is. We were there in August -- it's busiest. We took a bus up to "inspiration point" (is that the name?) and did an all day hike on our own down to the valley. I suddenly became worried that we weren't on this supposedly well known trail as we had been out a good two or three hours and had literally not seen another human being.
Stand around the lodges and it will be crowded. Get out and they will be wonderful.

happytrailstoyou Feb 14th, 2007 05:50 PM

Sounds like you would enjoy places such as Organ Pipes (AZ), Death Valley (CA), and Craters of the Moon (MT).

There are no undiscovered National or State parks.

I've been wondering: <b>Why were so many Civil War battles fought in National Parks?</b>

TheWeasel Feb 14th, 2007 05:54 PM

Organ Pipe would not be a good choice in summer, not mention that the backcountry areas are currently closed to all activity because of safety concerns due to illegal border activity.


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