If you’ve scrolled through Instagram in recent weeks, you may have noticed that your friends’ pictures of iconic national park landmarks look a bit different this year.

Instead of towering rock faces and clear water, The Narrows in Zion looks like a river of people. Arches’ namesake rock formations are now flanked by lines. In recent weeks, they’ve stretched up to an hour long, full of tourists waiting to snap a picture.

Even some lesser-known national and state parks are seeing record crowds. Visitors who find themselves unable to enter the national park they were headed to look for other nearby alternatives. Canyonlands, for instance, has seen a 30 percent increase in visitors this year as Arches has been forced to close its gates when it reaches capacity.

Dreaming of getting out and exploring a national park this summer? These lines and crowds may have you thinking twice—don’t! With the right trip and a little help, you can still enjoy an incredible outdoor adventure this summer. Keep reading to learn more about the restrictions and crowds you can expect this year, and how you can beat them.

Bouncing Back From 2020 and COVID-19 Restrictions

It’s no surprise that national parks saw a sharp drop in visitation in 2020. Visitor numbers dropped by 26 percent overall from 2019 to 2020. But 2021 is a different matter.

Vaccinations are rolling out fast and travel restrictions are lifting more and more each day. As a result, visitors are flooding into national parks across the country. Some of the most popular parks, like Zion, Arches, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain are already seeing record-breaking crowds. As summer gets into full swing, these crowds are expected to continue to increase.

Some national parks have already taken measures to restrict crowds and to allow for social distancing among visitors. Yellowstone National Park is closing its gates when it reaches capacity each day. Last year, it allowed half the normal number of visitors in. It’s unclear how many are being allowed to enter each day in 2021.

 Rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park have announced restrictions as well. Currently, they are allowing between 75 and 85 percent of their full capacity in.

Other national parks are discussing implementing reservation systems. This would help limit the number of people getting into the parks, and help visitors plan their vacations ahead of time. While a hassle, it will help guests avoid arriving at the gate only to find that they can’t get in.

How to Beat the Crowds This Summer (And Every Summer)

Whether you’re planning to visit a popular national park this year or are wary to do so because of the restrictions and crowds, you’re in luck—there’s an easy way to ensure that you still get to enjoy a memorable adventure in national parks and surrounding areas this summer, without the stress.

Booking a private or scheduled small-group tour means having an experienced guide there every step of the way. From navigating any new restrictions or pass systems to helping you find those hidden spots away from the crowds, we’re here to help you enjoy the vacation of a lifetime, regardless of how crowded the parks get. 

Even before COVID-19, we specialized in helping our guests get off the beaten path and enjoy our nation’s national parks as they’ve never seen them before.

Enjoy One of Our Private or Small-Group Tours

On The Mighty 5®️Tour, guests enjoy a full immersion into Utah’s famous natural wonders, as well as an adventure into the incredible Monument Valley. Our Wonders of the West Tour is a 10-day adventure that includes visits to some of the region’s most iconic destinations. Avoid the crowds with a visit to the often-overlooked North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Descend into the colorful Antelope Canyon. Plus, spend your evenings at some of the best hotels and resorts each area has to offer.

You can choose from scheduled group tours that feature set itineraries, or opt for a private tour that allows your group to explore on your own without other guests.

 From getting off the beaten path to enjoy some lesser-known trails to having a guide on hand to navigate complicated parking and crowded roadways, you can sit back and relax, knowing that every detail of your trip is under control. Your vacation starts long before your arrival. Avoid the normal hassles of planning an itinerary, finding lodging, and coordinating travel plans and reservations. Let us handle it for you!

There’s Still Time to Book a 2021 Adventure

If you’re ready to travel again, there’s still time to book your 2021 national park adventure!

Whether you’re dreaming of scaling Angel’s Landing, spotting wildlife in Yellowstone, or hiking into the Grand Canyon, we have a tour to take you there. You’ll enjoy an immersive, stress-free trip, guided by one of our experienced staff who will be there every step of the way to help you beat the crowds and enjoy the parks as you’ve never seen them before! Book your tour today to reserve your date, or start planning ahead for your 2022 vacation!