Here are 9 of the best places in the  U.S. to escape crowds

View of Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains; Photo by Madelaine Braggs

By Lonely Planet

With its epic expanse and diversity of landscapes, it seems like it should be easy to find some solitude in the USA.

But that’s not always the case, with some of the country’s beauty spots getting clogged with visitors, particularly during the summer high season. That’s why we asked our expert writers and staff to share some of their favorite places in the country to find some space.

Here are 9 of the best places in the US to escape the crowds. 

1. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 

Recommended by Deepa Lakshmin

The thing about hiking at popular national parks is that you will inevitably get stuck in a bottleneck waiting to scramble over a rock or shuffle through a narrow path. That can kill the mood, so I was pleasantly surprised by how quiet Capitol Reef – one of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks – was.

I hiked two trails, Sulfur Creek and Cohab Canyon, that were gloriously empty. Following Sulfur Creek through slot canyons and over waterfalls was my favorite, because the 5.8-mile trek feels completely untouched by humans. No trail markers, no signs, no bathrooms, no trash cans: just you in the wild. (And preferably a guide who knows where to go. I’m a newbie hiker and wouldn’t do this solo, especially because the water level can rise as high as your chest depending on conditions.)

Stay in Torrey, UT for easy access to the park; I checked out the new Skyview Hotel on a trip last year, which is ideal for glamping under the stars. There aren’t a ton of accommodation or dining options in such a small town, but that also means there’s really no wrong choice. Wild Rabbit Cafe is a must for breakfast, and have a nice sit-down dinner at Hunt & Gather. Fun extras are a cider tasting at Etta Place and a massage at Red Sands’ spa. Your muscles will thank you after all that trekking.


Superstitions landscape by Madelaine Braggs

5. Superstition Mountains, Arizona

Recommended by Melissa Yeager

Eager hikers visiting Phoenix swarm iconic Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale to get a photo from the humpback-shaped mountain for their Instagram. The resulting crowds along the less-hiking, more-bouldering route make it one of my least favorite hiking experiences in Arizona. Break free of the crowd, and take the drive east on Hwy 60 to the Superstition Mountains. The desert dazzles in this area, with stunning saguaro cacti and views for days. 

Hieroglyphic Trail will give you a less intense hike with the payoff of seeing petroglyphs near a waterfall. More intermediate hikers will find  Fremont Saddle a delightful route. (Bring a lunch to enjoy at the top as you rest and admire sweeping views of Weavers Needles.)  Experienced hikers looking for a rugged challenge can hike and climb the boulders for a spectacular view of the region from the top of Flat Iron. The Superstitions are gorgeous but wild. Cell service in the area is scarce, and in some places you’ll need a car that can navigate unpaved roads.  Make sure to bring enough water for your trip as trailheads may not have public water dispensers. 

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July 2024