August is a big month for national parks. For a lot of people, it’s the last chance to take a vacation or spend time with the kids before school resumes.
That can mean crowds. But here are some national park trails in Utah that get relatively few hikers, even on summer weekends, and still offer great scenery and a dose of solitude.
Arches National Park: Devils Garden
The trail takes you near five arches. It’s distance scares away a lot of park visitors, but school-aged children and fit adults should not have a problem as long as everyone packs enough water.
Round trip: 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: 330 feet
Canyonlands National Park: Neck Spring Trail
This loop hike in the Island in the Sky District has good views of the park and the valleys below. There’s a little bit of shade. My family and I hiked this on Memorial Day weekend and we saw only two other hikers.
Round trip: 6 miles.
Elevation gain: 364 feet
Zion National Park: Scout Lookout
There are great views of the valley and, if you dare to continue, support chains to grab if you wish to ascend the thin cliff to Angel’s Landing.
Round trip: 3.6 miles
Elevation gain:, 1,093 feet
Capitol Reef National Park: Cassidy Arch Trail
Here’s a trail without much elevation gain and a view of park landmarks Grand Wash, Cassidy Arch and the Frying Pan.
Round trip 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 580 feet
Bryce Canyon National Park: Hat Shop
This hike gives you great views of the national park on the way to the odd-looking balanced rocks take their name from the spires of red rock with wide, white tops.
Round trip: 3.7 miles
Elevation gain: 407 feet
Arches National Park: Fiery Furnace
This hike requires permits. There are no designated trails and your GPS will not work inside the slot canyons. But the Fiery Furnace has a plethora of red rock fins, towers, spires and even a few arches. And Fiery Furnace is great for exploring in narrow canyons and up and down boulders and rock walls.
Capitol Reef National Park: Grand Wash
This is an easy, family-friendly, picturesque hike. There are beautiful red, white and yellow cliffs that tower over the wash.
Round trip: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 152
Bryce Canyon National Park: Peekaboo-Queens Garden Loop
OK, so this hike will probably be crowded. But there’s a reason some things attract a crowd. This loop hike gives you a little taste of everything the park has to offer: hoodoos, windows and red rock as far as the eye can see.
Round trip: 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: 582 feet
Zion National Park: Pa’rus Trai
This is for the easy-going national park hiker. This 3½-mile paved trail leads from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to Canyon Junction. The trail follows the Virgin River and is a popular place to walk and bike.
Canyonlands National Park: Slickrock Trail
This is a great trail if you only have time for a short hike in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park or you need a short hike for the kids. The Slickrock Trail has three designated viewpoints plus scenery as you go.
Round trip: 2.8 miles
Elevation gain: 103 feet
— Nate Carlisle
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