By Alison Fox
August 24, 2019
Paul Souders/Getty Images

You’ll want to head to Yellowstone National Park in January, when the weather might be on the cool side but you won’t have to share the spectacular scenery with tens of thousands of other people. January is also a good time to check out the Grand Canyon, which, while always crowded, sees a slight dip in the winter. 

America’s national parks are diverse and varied, but one thing remains a constant among many: lots of people. Thanks to a visual study completed last year, however, you can now plan around the crowds.

Jordan Vincent
Jordan Vincent

The study, “A Night Under the Stars,” was completed by Jordan Vincent, a designer and engineer who lives in the Bay Area. According to his website, he used overnight stay data from the National Park Service that looked at average monthly stays from 2013 to 2018. He then tracked different types of stays, like lodges, RV stays, tent camping, and backcountry camping.

While Vincent tracked most national parks, he said that data was not available for some, like the National Park of American Samoa and Pinnacles National Park in California (which happen to be two of the most beautiful and least crowded parks).

It’s no surprise that most parks aremore popular in the summer, especially in areas like Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska where it is too cold to explore in the winter months.

Summer dominates visitor numbers at Denali National Park and Preserve too, also in Alaska (the best time to explore the park’s moose and caribou), but while you’re most likely to find those with RV’s and tents in July or August, backpackers tend to go in greater numbers in May and June.

Canyonlands National Park in Utah sees spikes of backcountry campers in both May and October, taking advantage of the hundreds of miles of hiking paths, including a 21.6 mile hike through the Lanthrop Canyon.

With these guides in mind, you can get out and discover some of the unique and enthralling facts about the country’s national parks, like how Montana’s Glacier National Park is constantly changing and how you can visit the natural mineral waters at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.

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