A few National Park adventures you may not have considered yet

These days we can get a little too caught up in the biggest and the best. Turn on your tv, tablet, computer or phone and you can quickly be inundated with lists of Top 10 This, or Best 14 That, or Most Amazing 7 Those. When it comes to lists of National Park vacations, you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

After all, each one was designated a ‘National Park’ for a reason, usually many reasons – all of them, in concert, coming together to create a fascinating, stellar, and/or breathtaking landscape for you to enjoy, especially on a self-drive RV adventure.

Thus, while we love Yosemite and Yellowstone and the other hugely popular parks, they do book up quickly and can even get quite crowded (at least in the ‘front country’ along the roads, at Visitor Centers, etc.). Together, Yosemite and Yellowstone receive more than 9,000,000 visitors per year. [Quick trivia question: do you know what park is the most popular at more than 11,000,000 visitors per year? If you guessed Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you nailed it.]

So we’re happy to present you this list that might not yet be on your radar but that you should absolutely add to your ‘must do’ list of National Park vacations.

Just by chance the four we’ve chosen to highlight here are all in the same beautiful state… Utah.

Photo credit: The Juves Family

 

Arches National Park

Bordered by the Colorado River, Arches is a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures with more than 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. The massive, red-hued Delicate Arch lies the east, while long, thin Landscape Arch stands in Devils Garden to the north. Other geological formations include Balanced Rock, towering over the desert landscape in the middle of the park. This is another fantastic park for viewing sunrises and sunsets.

Activities to consider for your National Park vacation here:
Canyoneering
Hiking & backpacking
Road tours
Rock climbing
Biking
Horseback riding
Stargazing

Fast facts:

  • Area: 120 square miles
  • Established: 12 April 1929
  • Annual visitors: 1.5M

See a Tracks & Trails itinerary that includes Arches NP

Learn more about Arches NP here

Photo credit: Alida Martorell

Bryce Canyon National Park

Sprawling across southern Utah, Bryce is known for the eerie, crimson-colored ‘hoodoos’, odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion. It boasts the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. It has overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. Prime viewing times are definitely around sunup and sundown.

Activities to consider for this National Park vacation:
Geology talks
Rim walks
Full moon hikes
Snowshoe hikes
Astronomy programs

Fast facts:

  • Area: 56 square miles
  • Established: 25 February 1928
  • Annual visitors: 2.3M

See a Tracks & Trails itinerary that includes Bryce NP

Learn more about Bryce Canyon NP here

Capitol Reef National Park

Located in the south-central deserts of Utah, in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold. This geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extends almost 100 miles.

Activities available for your National Park vacation here:
Hiking & backpacking
Road tours
Rock climbing
Biking
Backcountry horseback rides

Fast facts:

  • Area: 378 square miles
  • Established: 18 December 1971
  • Annual visitors: 1M

See a Tracks & Trails itinerary that includes Capitol Reef NP

Learn more about Capitol Reef NP here

Canyonlands National Park

A wilderness of canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries, Canyonlands is divided by rivers into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure.

Activities during this National Park vacation could include:
Auto tours
4WD adventures
Whitewater and flatwater boating
Hiking & backpacking
Rock climbing
Biking
Horseback riding
Stargazing

Fast facts:

  • Area: 527 square miles
  • Established: 12 September 1964
  • Annual visitors: 776K

See a Tracks & Trails itinerary that includes Canyonlands NP

Learn more about Canyonlands NP here

In conclusion, while you can’t really go ‘wrong’ with any National Park vacation, these hidden gems will blow your minds – while freeing you from worrying so much about the crowds.

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