This summer say no to too many heads at the trailhead. Hike the most popular national parks of the West with us and escape the growing throngs.
National park visitation in 2007 showed a boost of over 3 million visitors above 2006 totals countering several years of gradual decline. And according to the American Recreation Coalition, park visits are running ahead of last year and are forecasted to continue to increase for years to come partly due to domestic economic factors.
Dan Austin says: “While it is estimated that fewer than 10 percent of national park visitors venture more than a mile from their vehicle, many popular trails still resemble a freeway at rush hour. Never-the-less, we are willing to take the risk of revealing our favorite, least-frequented trails used on our backcountry excursions.” Enjoy our Top 10 List of favorite National Park trails in the West, where you can enjoy nature and avoid the crowds.
Yosemite National Park: Yosemite Family – Domes, Rivers & Waterfalls
Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone Family – Geysers & Grizzlies
Bryce Canyon National Park Vacation:
Bryce Zion – Red-Rock Wonders
#10 Grand Canyon National Park – South Kaibab Trail
Avoid the more crowded Bright Angel Trail; hike the South Kaibab Trail, the only trail in the park that so dramatically holds true to a ridgeline descent thus offering the best views.
#9 Yosemite National Park – Pohono Trail (Taft Point)
This trail leads to the top of Sentinel Dome, where we scramble up to enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls.
#8 Yellowstone National Park – Bunsen Peak Trail
A gradual 1,300-foot climb up Bunsen Peak provides a panoramic view of the Blacktail Plateau, Swan Lake Flats, Gallatin Mountain Range, and the Yellowstone River Valley.
#7 Bryce Canyon National Park– Fairyland Loop Trail
This great, less-crowded trail takes you through spectacular hoodoos and scenery along the rim and into the canyon. It’s a challenging 8-mile route with many elevation changes.
#6 Zion National Park – Kolob Canyon – Taylor Creek Trail
Kolob Canyon, in the isolated northwestern section of Zion, offers a pleasant 5-mile RT hike up an enchanting “finger” canyon that ends at the dramatic Double Arch Alcove.
#5 Yellowstone National Park – Wapiti Lake Trail to South Rim Trail
This trail follows Lily Pad and Clear Lake Trails to the spectacular South Rim Trail traversing a remote thermal area before emerging onto the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and a breathtaking view of 308-foot Lower Falls.
#4 Grand Teton National Park – Death Canyon
Death Canyon is a magnificent vertical-walled canyon with some of the oldest rock in the Teton Range. Hike to the patrol cabin for a wonderful 7.5 mile RT streamside jaunt.
#3 Crater Lake National Park – Mount Scott Trail
According to Trails.com, “If Crater Lake is the scenic highlight of Oregon; the Mount Scott Trail is the ultimate hike in Crater Lake National Park.”
#2 North Cascades National Park – Easy Pass Trail
We believe the Easy Pass area to be one of the most superb places in the North Cascades dominated by extensive meadows with rare larch trees, crowned by glacial peaks.
#1 Kenai Fjords National Park – Harding Ice Field Trail
Our favorite hike! Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breathtaking view of an endless expanse of glaciers and ice.
See you on the trails!