Yosemite and Yellowstone, the Everglades and the Great Smoky Mountains. America’s National Park system is one of the crown jewels of our country. And yet a visit to any of these magnificent locales can easily end in frustration and disappointment. Crowded roadways, poorly behaving tourists, smoky, noisy campgrounds, and any number of other unpleasantries can leave a sour taste in the mouth of a visitor.
But there are ways for a person to turn our National Parks into a positive experience. One is to simply not enter them! There are sometimes low key alternatives to a famous park, within it’s geographic vicinity. Adjacent National Forest or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, or nearby state parks, offer perhaps slightly lesser beauty, but with smaller (or no) crowds.
I recently spent some time in Utah, which included visits to Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and a drive through Zion National Park. Although I had some good times (see my next blog post), I enjoyed just as much, or more, time spent in lesser known places near these attractions. I won’t divulge where I went, but anyone with even the smallest bit of resourcefulness can find such places through the internet, maps, and readily available guidebooks.
One place I visited yielded the photograph below, probably the best image of my two weeks of travel in Utah.
Canyon Tree, Utah