Veteran Tour Operator Reveals Where to Avoid Crowds


This summer say no to too many heads at the trailhead. Hike the most popular national parks of the West with the experts of Austin-Lehman Adventures (ALA) and escape the growing throngs.

National park visitation in 2007 showed a boost of over 3 million visitors above 2006 totals, thus countering several years of gradual decline. And according to the American Recreation Coalition, park visits are running ahead of last year and are forecasted to continue to increase for years to come partly due to domestic economic factors.

ALA, the 23-year-old, multi-sport travel company that specializes in immersive travel experiences, has just revealed its Top 10 List of favorite National Park trails in the West, where you can enjoy nature void of the crowds.

ALA Director Dan Austin says: “While it is estimated that fewer than 10 percent of national park visitors venture more than a mile from their vehicle, many popular trails still resemble a freeway at rush hour. Never-the-less, we are willing to take the risk of revealing our favorite, least-frequented trails used on our backcountry excursions.”

  • #10    Grand Canyon NP - South Kaibab Trail: Avoid the more crowded Bright Angel Trail; hike the South Kaibab Trail, the only trail in the park that so dramatically holds true to a ridgeline descent thus offering the best views.
  • #9    Yosemite NP - Pohono Trail (Taft Point): This trail leads to the top of Sentinel Dome for a scramble up to enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls.
  • #8    Yellowstone NP – Bunsen Peak Trail: A gradual 1,300-foot climb up Bunsen Peak provides a panoramic view of the Blacktail Plateau, Swan Lake Flats, Gallatin Mountain Range, and the Yellowstone River Valley.
  • #7    Bryce Canyon NP - Fairyland Loop Trail: This great, less-crowded trail takes you through spectacular hoodoos and scenery along the rim and into the canyon. It’s a challenging 8-mile route with many elevation changes.
  • #6    Zion NP – Kolob Canyon - Taylor Creek Trail: Kolob Canyon, in the isolated northwestern section of Zion, offers a pleasant 5-mile RT hike up an enchanting “finger” canyon that ends at the dramatic Double Arch Alcove.
  • #5    Yellowstone NP – Wapiti Lake Trail to South Rim Trail: This trail follows Lily Pad and Clear Lake Trails to the spectacular South Rim Trail traversing a remote thermal area before emerging onto the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and a breathtaking view of 308-foot Lower Falls.
  • #4    Grand Teton NP – Death Canyon: Death Canyon is a magnificent vertical-walled canyon with some of the oldest rock in the Teton Range. Hike to the patrol cabin for a wonderful 7.5 mile RT streamside jaunt.
  • #3    Crater Lake NP – Mount Scott Trail: According to, “If Crater Lake is the scenic highlight of Oregon; the Mount Scott Trail is the ultimate hike in Crater Lake National Park.”
  • #2    North Cascades NP – Easy Pass Trail: ALA thinks that the Easy Pass area is one of the most superb places in the North Cascades, dominated by extensive meadows with rare larch trees, crowned by glacial peaks.
  • #1    Kenai Fjords NP – Harding Ice Field Trail: ALA’s favorite hike! Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breathtaking view of an endless expanse of glaciers and ice.


About Austin Lehman Adventures:
ALA manages all of the arrangements in its selected destinations. Small groups are held at 12 guests. Rates include first-class accommodations, most meals, expert guides, entry fees, multisport activities such as hiking, biking, rafting, horseback riding and more, ground transportation and luggage service. Not included is round trip air to the host city.

To get a copy of the 2008 catalog as well as information on ALA’s 40 unique luxury, multisport, adult and family active adventure travel itineraries please call toll-free 1.800.575.1540, or e-mail To review current trips, schedules and itineraries you can log onto

Source: Widness & Wiggins

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".