In 5 National Parks, Hidden Gems and Roads Less Traveled
National Parks are super busy these days but there are ways around the crowds. This article from The New York Times shares some secrets for your next visit.
“As park visitation rises, serenity in nature can be elusive. But even the most popular U.S. national parks have overlooked treasures and entrances that aren’t clogged with traffic.
Those of us who’ve had to squeeze our way through crowds at national parks recently can attest how hugely — and annoyingly — popular the parks have become. The pandemic turned a Klieg light on nature’s allure, so much so that 44 parks set visitation records in 2021, according to the National Park Service. And, given the upward trajectory of 2021’s visitation numbers, it’s safe to say greater numbers are likely to be seen in many parks this year.
In some cases, reservation systems or timed entries for vehicles at peak hours have been implemented to deal with the crowds.
But even the most popular parks have hidden gems and entrances that aren’t clogged with traffic. With a little planning, those hitting the road to see the misty inlets of Maine’s Acadia National Park or the plunging waterfalls in California’s Yosemite should be able to find some serenity to go along with those heavenly sights.
Packing a little patience, along with water, snacks and sunscreen, will go a long way. The N.P.S.’s new app helps with snags, offering real-time updates on road closures, long lines, weather and a portal for park-related reservations, including lodging. It also has hiking suggestions, audio tours and downloadable maps.
Virtually every national park without a reservation system recommends arriving early to avoid bottlenecks. But if 6 or 7 a.m. is just too early, here are other ways to find less crowded experiences in five national parks.
Home to bobcats, harbor seals and peregrine falcons, the 48,000-acre Acadia National Park, which had four million visitors last year, is spread across sections of Maine’s windswept northeastern coast.
Stephanie Clement, the chief executive and conservation director of Friends of Acadia, said that areas like Mount Desert Island, home to Cadillac Mountain, can feel overrun in the summer; she suggests choosing the more secluded Schoodic Peninsula, the only section on the mainland.
The Schoodic Peninsula is an hour’s drive from the Hulls Cove Visitor Center on Mount Desert Island. From the campground near the entrance, visitors can walk or drive on the park’s new roads or bike the 4.3-mile loop to Schoodic Point, the tip of the peninsula where views of the turbulent Atlantic Ocean are vast. “It is a great recreational experience,” Ms. Clement said.
The peninsula is also home to the Schoodic Research and Learning Center, managed by the Schoodic Institute. The compound has lodging for those attending lectures, classes or workshops.”
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