By Cassie Shortsleeve. Photos: Getty.
The road less traveled—it’s an old adage, sure, but also advice worth taking when it comes to exploring U.S. national parks. After all, our beloved parks are crowded: Last year, they had a banner year, with 325 million visitors enjoying (sometimes free) time in the great outdoors. Particular park trails, though, are more crowded than others, and in 2016, 24 million people traveled the U.S. National Parks’ "most popular" trails—a more than seven percent increase from 2015.
That’s where GPS wearable TomTom comes in. In an effort to prevent overcrowding (parks like Utah’s Zion National Park are bustling even in the off-season), the company has teamed up with the National Park Foundation to develop curated digital maps of "off-the-beaten-path" trails throughout the national parks.
How to it works: Find a park near you on TomTom’s site, download a map to a lightly-traveled trail, and instead of trekking by roaring waterfalls at Yosemite’s signature Mist Trail in tandem with hordes of others, you may wind up venturing toward the Elizabeth Lake Trail, which climbs up to a puzzle-piece-shaped, glacial lake, bordered by Unicorn Peak. At Acadia? You’ll bypass a classic path like Beehive, in lieu of quieter Pemetic West Cliff Trail, complete with high dramatic views. Right now, the program is suggesting 23 less-trekked park trails around the U.S., but TomTom plans to continue growing its suggestions. (Might we also suggest making a day of some of the country’s most underrated national parks?)
An added bonus to this newfound partnership: During National Park week from April 10 to 23, you can buy TomTom’s outdoor GPS watch the Adventurer for 15 percent off—and $5 goes to the National Park Foundation.
Taking the road less traveled doesn’t need to mean getting lost.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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