The ‘Mighty Five’ national parks of Utah protect a mind-blowingly diverse ecosystem and also draw millions of visitors each year. But exploring these highlights can be tricky and often overwhelming if you don’t know your way around. Here are a few helpful tips for you to experience the natural playground of Utah at your ease.
Planning Well Ahead
The Mighty Five national parks of Utah have witnessed a huge upsurge of visitors over the last few years. This situation has prompted the park service authorities to enforce strict limits on the number of visitors to protect the delicate landscape. Now, you need to book most of the popular hikes, and even the less-common ones, like the Subway hike in Zion, well ahead of the season.
Taking a Guided Tour or Two
Opting for at least one or two guided tours in the Mighty Five parks can make your trip easier, hassle-free, and more enjoyable. This way, all the logistics of your visits, including permits, will be pre-arranged or taken care of, and you’ll also get more depth in your visits with interesting information and not-to-miss highlights. The guides are trained to deliver you the best experiences with minimal impact on landscapes.
Traveling During Off-Season
Appreciating nature’s majesty can be tricky when you have to jostle for space among a hoard of visitors. As most families tend to visit the Mighty Five national parks during summer, the rest of the year, mainly fall and spring, are perfect for hitting the trails without the rush. These seasons also come with their own perks of changing foliage, early blooms or colorful wildflowers, livelier wildlife, and comfortable temperature.
Getting Up Early to Go Farther
Starting early is a great way to avoid tourist crowds. For example, if you choose the signature day hike in the Narrows at the popular Zion national park, you’ll need a special gear kit as the hiking trail includes running water. Most hikers rent the kit in the morning before starting, but collecting the kit the night before and heading up early will give you the benefit of having the scenery largely to yourself.
Opting for Less-Traveled Trails
Nothing works better to beat the crowd than heading off the beaten path. Among the Mighty Five parks, Zion earns the most reputation for being Utah’s main draw. But you can avoid the crowd here by taking the Subway route instead of the Narrows. Similarly, the gentler trail of Scout Lookout will give you the same views of the popular Angel’s Landing summit, minus the tough hike, crowds, and the need for permits.