Visiting a National Park this Summer? Here’s Why You Should Go with an Expert
This summer, travel to U.S. national parks is proving an increasingly popular option for U.S. travellers as parks reopen and the world continues to meet the challenges of the ongoing pandemic. But how to experience the magic of these special places while avoiding the crowds and travelling responsibly?
Condé Nast Traveler recently spoke with national parks travel expert and A&K USA Managing Director Marty Behr, who says the key is in avoiding popular sites and finding alternate, lesser-known gems — something A&K delivers in both exotic, far-flung locales and places right here in North America on new Tailor Made U.S.A. itineraries.
“There are 20 or so vista points in the Grand Canyon, so [any visitors should] stay away from the most popular, like El Tovar and Bright Angel, which often have large crowds,” says Behr. “Old Faithful [Yellowstone’s famous geyser] is in a huge area, so you can sometimes view it without being near other people as well.”
Behr also says that it’s best to avoid holidays and to go early, at daybreak, or late after dusk. “You're going to experience way less people, and better wildlife viewing.”
Experts and rangers in any park can usually point you to less-trafficked areas, but A&K goes farther with insider access at places off limits to most visitors and with visits to national parks that see fewer visitors. “In Utah, everyone knows Arches and Canyonlands, but Capitol Reef is a spectacular area with bison trails, petroglyphs, and great hiking, and it gets way less visitors than the others.” Behr also suggests national forests and monuments — such as Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument — as big park alternatives.
In addition, Behr says A&K looks to private lodging for an elevated, safe experience. “There are some cabins available at certain lodges—with an outside entrance, separate from others, at least six feet away from the next—but the cabins in most parks are quite basic.”
For more from Marty on how best to visit the parks now, check out Condé Nast Traveler’s recent feature, As National Parks Reopen, What to Consider Before You Go. And, check out nine private itineraries to U.S. national parks, including two epic American road trips, by exploring A&K’s Tailor Made U.S.A. journeys.