A National Park for All Seasons
1) Most Popular:
Rocky Mountain National Park's visitors sextuple during the summer months. But if you're an aspiring mountain scenarist, this shouldn't deter you; the park is worth every last annoying tourist. Once you've escaped Trail Ridge Road's seemingly 24-hour-rush-hour, there are 71 peaks over 12,000 feet on which to lose the throng. If you want to beat the lion's share of the crowds, head to the park in the late spring/early summer. Also, be sure to check for summer festivals and special events to add to Rocky Mountain's already brimming slate of warm weather distractions.
2) Hidden Gem:
Sequoia National Park is summer's antidote to Yosemite crowds. Sequoia's veritably giant trees and towering Mount Whitney (at 14,495 feet, the tallest in the Lower 48) leave you feeling small and solitary, just as national parks are meant to do. Only a quick jaunt from the summer heat and smog of L.A., Sequoia's lush environment feels about a world away.
3) On the Cusp:
Olympic National Park's ideal, 60-degree hiking weather guarantees that summer is its most popular season, but the park gets half the tourists in June that it does in Augustand the waterfalls are just as magnificent in either month. Fall is also another good time, because the park gets a quarter of the visitors that it does in August. Don't worry: If it happens to be a particularly cool day, you have the famous hot springs in which to relax and warm up.
4) Be Warned:
No other national park has had an entire album dedicated to it. While Joshua Tree is worth U2's adulation tenfold, the park is also worth viewing outside of summer's dangerously hot desert heat. Summer days can reach 115 degrees, but spring offers 60- to 80-degree daysperfect for the rock climbing and hiking that are a must-do in this park.
5) Seasonal Cure:
Oregon's Crater Lake National Park has some of the most dependable weather of all the national parks: it snows here about nine months of the year. Summer temperatures rarely exceed the 60s, so if you're not one for sweating it out on a hike or grilling yourself at the beach, head to the High Cascades and plunge headlong into deepest lake in the U.S.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication