10 secret spots in top US national parks

Noble Horvath

Here are our top picks for how to escape the crowds and find a slice of pristine wilderness in some of the country’s most visited national parks. Here are our top picks for how to escape the crowds and find a slice of pristine wilderness in some of the country’s […]

Here are our top picks for how to escape the crowds and find a slice of pristine wilderness in some of the country’s most visited national parks.

Here are our top picks for how to escape the crowds and find a slice of pristine wilderness in some of the country’s most visited national parks.

Editor’s note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice.

Mineral King

Found in Sequoia National Park

Sure, you’ll have to drive an hour down a rugged dirt road to get to Sequoia’s Mineral King area, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada Range and plentiful hiking and backpacking opportunities. The trail up to Franklin Lakes (12 miles round trip) is an awesome day hike or overnight trek, passing by waterfalls and, in summer, spectacular wildflowers. Serious adventurers might want to tack on a 3-4 day journey over Franklin Pass to secluded Kern Hot Springs.

East Inlet Trail

Found in Rocky Mountain National Park

Situated on the far less traveled, western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, the East Inlet Trail is a great jumping off point for hikers seeking big mountain vistas, wildlife, waterfalls, and, most importantly, solitude. The trail starts with Adams Falls, then steadily climbs up through a mountainous valley, with views getting better the further your climb. It’s a 16-mile round trip to Spirit Lake, and an even farther overnight trek for those who want to travel to Fourth Lake and over Boulder Grand Pass.

A red-rock mountain, with green trees below and blue skies aboveKolob Canyon is a little-visited area in Utah’s Zion National Park © Nickolay Stanev / Shutterstock

Kolob Canyon

Found in Zion National Park

Located in the park’s northern, higher elevation section, Kolob Canyon has all the fabulous red rock and big vistas that you’d expect from Zion, but with far fewer crowds. Take a scenic drive along East Kolob Canyon Road, then go on a hike amidst towering, rust-colored fins and escarpments on the La Verkin Creek Trail.

Serious trekkers won’t want to miss Kolob Arch (15 miles round trip – mostly flat) as a long day hike or a mellow backpacking trip along a gently burbling creek (permits available online or at the visitor center).

Schooner Head Overlook & Tide Pools

Found in Acadia National Park

Download a tide schedule app onto your phone, then traverse the Park Loop Road to Schooner Head Overlook. Head down to the rocky seashore at low tide to check out numerous tide pools filled with barnacles, sea urchins, and crabs, just watch out for slippery seaweed on the rocks.

Visitors comfortable scrambling on wet rocks will definitely want to check out Anemone Cave, which can be accessed only at low tide via careful rock-hopping. Like the NPS, we don’t recommend entering the cave, but the interior can be safely viewed from the rocks nearby.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with blue sky above in Yosemite National Park.You’ll have quiet places like Hetch Hetchy Reservoir all to yourself © Nickolay Stanev / Shutterstock

Hetch Hetchy

Found in Yosemite National Park

Located in the least-visited northwestern quadrant of the park, Hetch Hetchy is an area John Muir once called “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.” Unfortunately, the valley was dammed to create a reservoir for drinking water, but the surrounding mountainous landscape is still spectacular and free of the usual hustle and bustle of the rest of Yosemite.

Visitors can day hike here or check out an epic, 25-mile backpacking loop that traverses several of the area’s stunning lakes and waterfalls. Go in spring for rainbow bursts of alpine wildflowers.

Sidewinder Canyon

Found in Death Valley National Park

Just 20 minutes by car from Badwater Basin lies a small, unsigned parking lot and a vague trail leading toward a series of three slot canyons. After hiking .6 miles up an imposing desert wash, visitors here can squeeze, shimmy, and scramble through narrow breccia rock formations.

Grab detailed, printed directions for the 5-mile (round trip) journey at the ranger station in Furnace Creek if you’re at all nervous about off-trail exploration, and be sure to pack plenty of water.

A long exposure of water rushing over rocksWith the water from this nearby waterfall rushing by, the Sinks is a perfect place for a relaxing swim © Ehrlif / iStock / Getty

The Sinks Swimming Hole

Found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Enjoy one of the most picturesque spots on the Little River Road scenic drive, located just 12 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Travelers here can hang out on the massive river boulders, relax near a rushing waterfall, and swim in the clear, natural pools to cool down on a hot, summer day. The bravest of your group might even want to try cliff diving from the nearby rocks, a popular activity among locals.

Bogachiel River Trail

Found in Olympic National Park

Bypass the ever-popular Hoh Rain Forest Trail while still enjoying the same temperate rainforest ecosystem, filled with verdant spruce, mossy alders, and gardens of sword fern. Hikers can go the distance and parallel the river for a 12-mile round-trip out-and-back or simply turn around whenever they’ve seen enough.

At .3 miles from the trailhead is a junction with the Kestner Homestead Loop, which is a lovely, accessible trail to an old barn, house, and outbuildings that colors the historic significance of the area.

A geyser erupts at duskThe Lone Star Geyser is a little out of the way, but it offers the spectacle of Old Faithful without the crowds © Kris Wiktor / Shutterstock

Lone Star Geyser

Found in Yellowstone National Park

Escape the madness at Old Faithful and visit Lone Star Geyser instead. A mellow, 4.8-mile (round trip) hike or bike ride down an old park road takes visitors here through a dense pine forest, occasionally opening up to beautiful meadow views. At the turn-around point is Lone Star Geyser. The geyser erupts about every three hours, so use a geyser times app to check the predicted schedule. It’s a great spot to hike to for lunch and hang out as you wait for the geyser to blow. Be sure to download the NPS Yellowstone App onto your phone before going on this hike – there’s little to no cell service inside the park.

A wide shot of the Grand Canyon from a high overlookShoshone Point captures the scope of the Grand Canyon without the crowds seen at more popular spots © Chr. Offenberg / Shutterstock

Shoshone Point

Found in Grand Canyon National Park

Shoshone Point has all the grandeur of Mather Point and Bright Angel, without the throngs of crowds that can make it difficult to snap a decent picture. That’s because travelers here have to walk an easy, 1-mile (each way) former service road to get to the viewpoint. Gaze out at layer upon layer of bright red canyon rock and try to catch a glimpse of the powerful Colorado River, a vertical mile beneath your feet. Go at sunrise to have the place all to yourself.

Next Post

Ras Al Khaimah emerges most popular destination among residents in dnata poll

Dubai: A majority of domestic travellers want to experience more of the UAE in 2021, according to a survey by Dnata Travel. As much as 91 per cent of respondents replied positively to considering more domestic travel for the remainder of 2020 and the whole of 2021. Ras Al Khaimah […]