The Great Outdoors Is Getting Crowded [infographic]

Guest post by Dustin Walker

“National Parks Are Being Loved To Death.”

This headline has been repeated by media so often in 2018 that it’s become almost a cliché.  

And it’s all because of recent statistics showing a more than 21% spike in visitors to U.S. national parks over the past decade. Canada is no different. Park attendance there jumped 27% in the past decade.

All this extra foot traffic means more pressure on park infrastructure, increased human-wildlife conflicts and added stress on the environment (check out the infographic below for more details on this).

What’s causing the surge? No one seems to be certain. However, theories range from social media influence and demographic trends to successful state ad campaigns. But one solution to the problem — at least, from my perspective — is far more obvious:

We need to seek out the trails less traveled.

Much of the overcrowding in parks is happening at the most well-known outdoor “hotspots.” Places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite in the U.S. Or Banff and Jasper in Canada.

And yet, there are plenty of lesser-known backpacking and hiking trails throughout North America that offer an amazing experience — without the crowds.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you avoid the best hikes altogether — I’d hate to dissuade anyone from trekking the West Coast Trail or the John Muir Trail.

But I do think that tourism organizations, governments and — to some extent — the media should put more effort into promoting North America’s hidden gems. Whether it’s a little-known hiking trail, a rarely explored park or a lake that’s simply left off the typical tourist map.

Not only would this help alleviate some of the pressure on crowded national parks. It would also introduce more people to the thrill of exploring off-the-beaten path.

This infographic was made by Slick & Twisted Trails

DUSTIN WALKER’S BIO:

Dustin runs Slick & Twisted Trails – a blog for hikers & backpackers who shun the beaten path. Based on Canada’s Vancouver Island, Dustin is always on the hunt for those rare, less-traveled routes through the wilderness.

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Jyrgalan Trek, Kyrgyzstan

June 20 – September 20 is the hiking season.

Alesha and Jarryd:

Everything you need to know about the Jyrgalan trek, the newest adventure destination in Kyrgyzstan! …

jyrgalan-trek

As this trek is still brand new and under development, exact costs are

still being worked out. It really depends on how much support you are looking to take with you in terms of cooks and horsemen.

For a general idea though expect to pay around $50 per person per day, including a guide, basic food, a cook, pack horse and horseman to carry your gear. …

The trek we did was spread out over 3 days, 2 nights, but this can be personalized …

If you don’t travel with trekking gear this is not a problem, as you can rent almost everything from EcoTrek in Karakol, or pick up stuff in Bishkek. …

Breaking Trail On Kyrgyzstan’s New Jyrgalan Trek

kyrgyzstan

28 days on the John Muir Trail 1993

Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail by Suzanne Roberts was published 2012.

It’s the author’s recollection of her 1993 hike with two friends.

They were hiking rookies. Woefully incompetent. Suzanne’s pack weighed 60lbs to start.

I recommend this book, especially for female hikers.

Her story of a month in the backcountry—confronting bears, snowy passes, broken equipment, injuries, and strange men—is as much about finding a woman’s way into outdoor experience as it is about the natural world she so eloquently describes.

Candid and funny and, finally, wise, Almost Somewhere is not just the whimsical coming-of-age story of a young woman ill-prepared for a month in the mountains but also the reflection of a distinctly feminine view of nature.

GoodReads

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

hiking Glacier National Park, Montana

My favourite National Park in North America is Waterton Glacier International Peace Park.

Parks Canada: Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada

United States National Park Service: Glacier National Park

One of our top 10 hikes in the world makes an international circuit of the two parks.

Glacier North Circle

  • 7 days, 6 nights recommended
  • 65miles (104km) plus side trips
  • best months July-Sept

yellow marks the Highline Trail / Ptarmigan Tunnel, North Circle
red arrows point to our recommended campgrounds

That’s your best hike in the area.

If you would rather day hike the best resource online is …

Hiking in Glacier

by Recovering Vagabond

by Recovering Vagabond

Considerations

For a quick overview of that site check out

Glacier National Park: A Day Hikers Overview

Both Waterton and Glacier are very busy during the short high season. That’s one good reason to choose some of the less popular trails.

It’s all great. You can’t lose.

NEW – Phulara Ridge Trek, India

Best months: March to May, September to mid-November.

This trail starts off from Sankri, which is in western Uttarakhand, almost touching Himachal. If you are familiar with Kedarkantha, it has the same base camp, Sankri. However, the trail to Phulara ridge heads in a different direction.

From Sankri, over two days and two camps, you climb up to the Phulara ridge. That’s when the fun begins. You traverse this ridge for a long time — it’s almost an entire day’s trek. …

India Hikes – Phulara Ridge

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

India Hikes covers over 200 trails. Check out indiahikes.com

Laugavegur trek, Iceland

I’m looking at Iceland’s most famous walk during the window July 23-30, 2018. Wish me luck.

My first attempt a few years ago failed. Wanting to hike in June, the trails were too muddy.

One of the best hikes in the world is the Laugavegur

 (Landmannalaugar to Skógar route)

by clesenne

by clesenne

AT A GLANCE

  • IcelandIceland‘s best hike
  • weird and wonderful landscapes
  • best route is Skógar – Landmannalaugar 77km (48mi) in 4-6 days in either direction
  • shorter options 55km (34mi) or 22km (13.6mi)
  • tent or sleep in huts
  • permits not required
  • steep rough, rocky and slippery slopes
  • in good weather, this trek is only moderately difficult
  • up to 100 hikers starting each day during high season July and August
  • it can be dangerous in bad weather. About every second year someone dies.

Click PLAY or watch Alastair Humphrey’s highlights on Vimeo.

Check our Laugavegur information page on how to organize this adventure for yourself.