#AdventureTravel: Skip the Crowds and Camp at These Awesome Parks Instead
It doesn’t have Old Faithful, but Lassen Volcanic National Park has its own thermal features. (Photo: Shutterstock)
This summer, as you hit the road with backpacks and tents to go camping amid the natural splendor of America, you may notice you’re not the only one who had that idea. Last year, over 3 million people visited Yosemite National Park, the vast majority of them during summer. The spectacular views of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls lose some of their luster after you’ve been sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for a day. Campgrounds are packed, hungry bears are plentiful, and the Valley takes on a circus atmosphere.
Meanwhile, about two hours south, Sequoia National Forest boasts similarly beautiful nature and cheaper entry fees, and I’ve spent days hiking there without seeing a soul. What you lose from missing Yosemite’s money-shot monuments you gain in enjoying peace, solitude and the fresh air you sought from the camping experience.
Like Sequoia National Forest, the list of alternative camping locales below offer great hiking and backpacking opportunities without the traffic, crowds, and costs at their more famous and popular nearby spots. Yes, you can always find solitude in the remote spots of Yosemite, Yellowstone, and other popular (and massive) national parks. But if you’re looking to dodge that line of traffic-clogging RVs on a busy summer weekend, perhaps give one of these alternate spots a try.
Instead of Yellowstone National Park, try Lassen Volcanic National Park. While Yellowstone has the iconic Old Faithful geyser and herds of buffalo, it also has herds of visitors in summer, which can be as pleasant as a close encounter with some bison. In Northern California, the under-visited Lassen National Park has an equally entertaining collection of thermal features, including the always-popular “Bumpass Hell” and “Fart Gulch.” For those with a hankering for buffalo, you can get your fill at the rugged and remote Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
White Mountain in New Hampshire. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Instead of Maine’s Acadia National Park, try White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire. With 2.2 million visitors to Acadia National Park on the shores of Maine last year, it’s going to take a lot of work to find some solitude. Peter Potterfield, author of Classic Hikes of North America, recommends the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountain National Forest as one of his all-time favorite hikes for its rugged beauty. The full hike can be pretty extreme on the windswept peaks above tree line, but campgrounds that abound in the area provide peace and spectacular views.