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Which National Parks are best?

Boston...
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Which National Parks are best?

My husband and I would like to visit a national park - do some hiking, camping, etc. - and would like some feedback on which in the US are best. We're leaning toward Glacier or Zion. We don't like a lot of crowds, so we're going to steer clear of the Grand Canyon. Any hidden gems out there that don't attract a lot of tourists?

Thanks!

Pekin, IL
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1. Re: Which National Parks are best?

The Valley of Fire just north of Las Vegas is a beautiful place to see. It will leave you breathless.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: Which National Parks are best?

It depends on what you want to see. Zion and Glacier are complete opposites of one another. For total experience, Yellowstone would be near the top of the list - along with Yosemite, Denali, etc... Its entirely subjective and mostly based on your interests and expectations.

Long Island, New...
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3. Re: Which National Parks are best?

The major National Parks can be crowded in the summer, but even in the midst of the busy season you can find places of solitude., particularly if you plan on camping and hiking. Glacier or Zion will not be any less crowded than the Grand Canyon. Crowds are less in the spring and in the fall.

Are you considering doing these as part of a trip to Vegas? Glacier is in Montana. Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon are neat little spots, but can hardly be compared to the major National Parks.

Boston...
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4. Re: Which National Parks are best?

Thanks so much for the input. We don't want to go to Vegas - that is definitely not our scene. We really want a lot of nature. How are Glacier and Zion opposites? I've checked out all of the websites and each place seems to offer a lot of the same - hiking, camping, fishing, etc.

Orlando, Florida
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5. Re: Which National Parks are best?

I've been to Glacier, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone/Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, amongst a few others. Zion in April as part of a Vegas trip. I would say Yellowstone is probably the "best" of those I listed but they're incredibly different in scenery. We were there the 2nd week of August and crowds were light. Yellowstone really comprises a couple different ecosystems- they have one of the biggest canyons you'll see, complete with hundreds-of-foot waterfalls, open plains, and Grand Teton NP backs up to it with incredible mountain vistas.

Glacier is also beautiful and I can't wait to see Zion. Glacier was semi-crowded in July, there's really one main artery through the park and it was continuous lines of traffic (but not jammed). You really can't go wrong with any of the big ones. As the other posters said, they'll all be crowded at certain times but none of them have ever been unbearable and I've seen them all between June and August.

Culebra, Tx
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6. Re: Which National Parks are best?

Grand Canyon (north Rim), Zion, and Bryce are semi close to each other.

Seattle, Washington
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7. Re: Which National Parks are best?

The activities at all National Parks are mostly the same - its the scenery and climate that is different.

Zion is basically high desert. There are a lot of windswept canyons and rock formations but little vegetation and visible animal life. Its usually accessible year round.

Glacier is in a much cooler climate, densely forested, mountainous and has many lakes and streams. Wild life is abundant. Summer is the best time to go as winter weather can be extreme.

Boston...
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8. Re: Which National Parks are best?

Thanks so much, everyone. I'm always amazed when I post a question - folks are so generous to take the time to give me such terrific input!

Salt Lake City
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9. Re: Which National Parks are best?

Tah - Here's my suggestion. I stumbled onto your post in the Las Vegas forum. I would suggest that you go to the Zion National Park forum and the Glacier National Park forum and read a bunch of the posts on each. They really are quite different, especially in climate.

I will never go to Grand Canyon again after battling the bumper to bumper traffic in the summer there. But Zion is a lot smaller than Glacier NP and so it can get pretty crowded too, depending on the time of year you travel. When I've been to Glacier it's been less crowded than most national parks in the summer.

But here's the real hidden gem:

If you really want solitude, incredible hiking, Bristlecone pine forests (some of those trees are 2,000 years old or older), glacial cirques, and would like a great cave thrown in for good measure, then you really need to look at Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

At the height of summer, my husband and I were in one of three occupied campgrounds (out of something like 20 available sites) at Wheeler Peak in Great Basin NP. The temperature never got above 77 (in JULY!) and never below 45. That campground has a beautiful meadow in the middle where the deer graze at twilight and sometimes walk right through your camp.

You just have to promise that after you come home, you won't tell everybody you know about this amazing gem of the national park system. It's funny that people are willing to drive for hours and hours to get to Yellowstone or Glacier, but not willing to drive four or five hours to get to a park that easily holds its own as one of the greatest.

I live in a state with five national parks, all of which are dear to my heart, but Great Basin is a truly incredible place and you need to see it to believe it.

Boston...
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10. Re: Which National Parks are best?

Thanks! It's funny - I didn't actually realize that I was in a Las Vegas forum. I think I just searched for forums that addressed National Parks and chimed in. I'll check out other forums as well...