Short of visiting in winter and hiking deep into the backcountry, the parks' popularity can make it tricky to find your own slice of solitude. Tricky, but not impossible. Here are 10 scenic spots you can have all to yourself.
Since both my friend and I are avid photographers, it took us a little longer to do the hike than it probably would most people because with the flowing river, canyon walls and wildlife running about, the photo-ops were abundant, and we took advantage of every single one.
We cannot ignore the realities of habitat loss for wildlife, the extinction crisis, and the impact climate change has on nature; but equally as important, we should not forget the good news and the victories through conservation action.
"Looks like your shelters are about to be tested!" our instructor says as the temperature drops and a massive front rolls off the Continental Divide. The air fills with ozone as eight of us run into the forest to gather and stack more pine boughs atop the lean-tos we constructed an hour earlier.
As far as amazing places go, there's truly no place like home. After all, why fret about exorbitant airfare to far-flung locales when you can experience some of the world's most stunning sights right here in North America?
When conservation plays offense, what's at stake is not so much some future loss, but a linked and living landscape that's out there right now, a landscape where it is still possible to see five bears pass by a campfire in a single night.
So much of my time hitchhiking, I think of roads. Of Patch workers on ice roads. Of roadside running caribou. Of traveling carnival convoys. Of runners in love living their dream lives on the road. There's a lot of living on the road and some rides go far.
It was on one soulful hike that I realized there are some valuable "rules" to keep in mind as one ventures into the woods or up the side of an incredible mountain. All these revelations on my hike apply to life in general and in politics.
No, wolves will never be as abundant as they once were across North America, and nobody expects that. But restoring them to just 5 percent of where they once lived, then calling it quits and hunting them down again by the thousands? That's just wrong.
Something urgent pulls me across the cold wooden deck, the light and clouds changing with each picture I take. Colorado is easy like that -- feeding photographers a steady, nourishing stream of grand skyscapes, wildlife, colors, and textures.
The boundaries around our national parks have given us wonderful jewels like Yellowstone, but science tells us this approach is inadequate. National parks are simply not big enough to sustain healthy nature; wild places need to be connected to each other.