5 Overcrowded Hikes And Where To Go Instead

A deal by , 14. Aug. 2018 3:15 pm

Imagine this: a picture pops up on your newsfeed of colorful and iconic Antelope Canyon. It sparks something in you. You plan to go here to connect with nature and find some peace and relaxation away from the constant noise and buzz of everyday life. You take time off from work, plan a whole trip, get excited, arrive there and realize it's nothing like you imagined. Why? Because millions of people saw that very destination on their social media accounts and had the same idea as you. Here at TravelPirates we want to help you avoid the crowds, while still getting to see the beauty that the U.S has to offer. We put together some of the most popular hikes in the United States and where you can go instead to skip the crowds and truly enjoy your time in the wild.

In regards to National Parks there are free admission days this year on September 22 and November 11. Find out more here.

1. Antelope Canyon

Page, Arizona

Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the American Southwest. It is a source of tourism for the Navajo Nation. It has been accessible to visitors going on guided tours since 1997. It is a beautiful place that will take your breath away, but you will also be surrounded by hordes of people.

Cost: $32 – $40 depending on time of year

Tour Type: Guided walk led by Navajo tribe member

Where to go instead:

Peek-a-boo and Spooky Slot Canyons

Escalante, Utah.

These slot canyons are part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument located in Utah. This area is a hiker and backpackers paradise. The land is unspoiled, and because not many people are aware of it's existence you can go on these hikes and not see a single other person. Considering that all of the hikes are accessible via Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 your best bet is to make the towns of Boulder and Escalante your base to explore the miles of backcountry terrain during your visit.

Cost: FREE (As of now there are no entrance fees for this area.)

Tour type: Self-guided with the option to book a tour for a fee.

2. Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

This jewel of the Pacific Northwest saw 3.4 million visitors last year, even though there are no roads that cross the park. It contains a unique blend of ecosystems ranging from boulder-strewn beaches to snow-capped mountains. Hoh Rain Forest is one of the most popular and accessible hikes in the Olympics. It offers several hikes ranging in difficulty through the forest's depths. Again, you will be impressed by this world of green, but you will also be surrounded by other people doing the same exact thing.

Cost: $15 per vehicle to enter the park or $5 if you enter on foot.

Tour Type: Self-guided short or long hike, heavily trafficked.

Where to go instead:

Shi Shi Beach, Washington.

This beach is probably the most dramatic beach in Washington State. Located in Neah Bay almost at the northwestern most part of the continental U.S. this unspoiled beach is a day trip or overnight camping trip that you'll never forget. Drive 66 miles from Port Angeles and then hike 3.3 miles through lush rainforest, and sprawling cliffs down to the water, where you can walk along the empty beach and explore the haystack rocks. Experience the rainforest and be rewarded for your efforts with an untouched beach.

Cost: Free for a day hike or $10 for an overnight camping permit.

Tour Type: Self-guided moderate hike with no crowds.

3. Grand Canyon National Park,


Arguably one of the most sought after places to visit in the United States, the Grand Canyon receives on average 4.4 million visitors a year with the peak season being summer. The canyon is huge. To get from the North Rim to the South Rim it takes roughly 4.5 hours one-way. The South Rim is open all year long, while the North Rim closes from Nov./Dec. – mid-May. With the amount of people that visit you will never find yourself alone.

Cost: $25 per vehicle or $12 for walk-ins.

Tour Type: Mix of self-guided and guided tours, which will be an extra fee.

Where To Go Instead:

Dead Horse Point,

Moab, Utah

While, this has been a state park since 1959 many tourists simply drive right by on their way to Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Dead Horse Point named according to one legend that said the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs is arguably the most beautiful place to watch a sunset in Utah. You will be able to visit the top of this plateau without the crowds and get a similar enough view to the Grand Canyon that most people would not know the difference.

4. Bryce Canyon Hoodoos,


Utah's second most popular park after Zion, Bryce is located in southwestern, Utah and is in fact not a canyon, but really a collection of giant amphitheaters along the eastern edge of a plateau. Bryce is distinctively known for its geological structures called hoodoos. The red, orange, and white rocks provide otherworldly views for park visitors.In comparison to other parks Bryce does receive far less foot traffic, but it is the smallest of Utah's parks meaning that the 1.3 million annual visitors can be off putting for people looking for a quiet vacation, after all these gallant rock formations are best experienced in silence.

Cost: $25 entrance fee per vehicle

Tour Type: Self-guided hikes through hoodoos.

Where To Go Instead:

Goblin Valley State Park


Located 4 hours northeast of Bryce, this is the perfect place to visit to be alone with your thoughts. This strange and colorful valley is honestly unlike anything else in Utah. The landscape which is covered with sandstone hoodoos that look like goblins is often compared to Mars. You get to walk among these cool formations all alone if you please, and it is also one of the best spots in the United States to experience the stars at night. In fact, as of this year the valley has been formally designated as an international dark sky park. This could be the perfect place for you to experience the Milky Way.

Cost: $15 for day use and $30 for overnight camping

Tours: Self-guided walking tours throughout the area

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Tennessee & North Carolina

The most-visited national park in the U.S., the Great Smoky Mountains saw around 11.3 million recreational visitors last year, thanks to eclipse viewers. Unlike other parks, admission is always free, which makes it easy to enjoy 850 miles of hiking trails. It also means big crowds most of the year. The most popular hike is Clingmans Dome, but you can almost always count on a crowd.

Cost: Free, but always busy and crowded

Tour Type: Self-guided hikes

Where To Go Instead:

Gatlinburg, Tennessee Grotto Falls Hike

Just outside of the Smoky Mountains park there is a town called Gatlinburg, TN famous for the Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery, and Dolly Parton influence. Grotto Falls is just minutes out of Gatlinburg right off of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. You can make this walk challenging or easy as there are two ways to access the falls, but once there this is the only waterfall in the Smokies that you can stand behind. Take the Trillium Trail through the old-growth forests to feel really alone.

Cost: Free and skip crowds

Tour Type: Self-guided hikes

5 Overcrowded Hikes And Where To Go Instead