Bryce Canyon, the North Rim, Capitol Reef: Visiting the West’s Lesser-Known National Parks

by Vibrant Management


Sep 19, 2021

Every year, more than 237 million people visit national parks across the United States. The top 10 national parks account for around 40 million of those visits.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee welcomes the highest number of annual visitors. But the western U.S. is home to a number of parks that have made the top 10 list. Zion, Grand Teton, Joshua Tree, and the Grand Canyon are just a few.

These national parks certainly deserve a spot on your bucket list. However, far too many travelers only hit the highlights. This means that they miss the lesser-known, but equally unique and beautiful national parks. Often, these are located just a short distance from their more popular neighbors.

Our private and scheduled tours offer guests a chance to see, explore, and experience some of the best national parks and other natural attractions the West has to offer. Keep reading to learn a little about what you can expect when you visit some of the region’s lesser-known national parks.

Bryce Canyon National Park

When most people think about Southern Utah, they think of Zion National Park. But while this popular park is a must-see, it has a lesser-known neighbor that is just as unique. Located just over an hour from Zion, Bryce Canyon is a stunning destination that’s home to a unique rock formation, a larger-than-life natural amphitheater, and more.

Called hoodoos, these natural rock formations look like stacks of stone perched precariously on top of one another. While these hoodoos are found elsewhere around the world, Bryce is home to the largest concentration of them. They fill the massive amphitheater the park is home to, allowing guests to gaze down into a massive canyon filled with endless hoodoos. The amphitheater comes to life at sunrise and sunset. That’s when the colors of the sky bring the red rock formations to life.

Capitol Reef National Park

Canyonlands and Arches National Park rival Zion in popularity, thanks in part to their location next to popular Moab, Utah. However, located just a short distance from these parks is Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef is unique from the rest of Utah’s Mighty 5®️national parks for several reasons. One thing that sets it apart from perhaps every other national park is that it’s home to groves of fruit trees. In the fall, visitors can pick and purchase fresh fruits like apples, peaches, pears, and cherries. 

The Waterpocket Fold, a literal wrinkle in the Earth’s surface, extends through the park as well, creating stunning rock formations like domes and natural bridges.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon

You might be surprised to see the Grand Canyon on a list of the West’s lesser-known national parks; in fact, it’s on the list of the top 10 most-visited parks in the nation. But while 6 million people make their way to this world wonder each year, less than 10 percent of those visitors see the park’s North Rim entrance.

Thanks to the depth of the canyon and the rough terrain, getting from the more popular South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the remote North Rim by car requires hours of driving. The South Rim is more easily accessed from major cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. That’s one reason why the majority of visitors to the Grand Canyon opt to head here. As a result, it’s more developed — and more crowded.

The North Rim offers equally stunning views without the crowds. This remote and beautiful destination is a great way to experience this popular park as you’ve never seen it before. However, because of its high elevation and heavy snowfall, this entrance to the Grand Canyon is closed to visitors during the winter months.

Visiting the West’s Most Incredible Natural Attractions

From the sweeping views of the Grand Canyon to the awe-inspiring amphitheaters of Bryce Canyon, you could travel the West for decades and never see everything it has to offer. But our scheduled and private national park tours will help you hit the highlights, including those destinations and landmarks that many visitors to the region never see.

Our Wonders of the West 10 Day Scheduled Tour is a great chance to get a taste of Utah, including a visit to all 5 of the state’s national parks. Also during your tour, you’ll get a chance to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, and more.

On our Triple Canyon Tour, you’ll visit Zion, Bryce, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, as well as several other destinations, including the popular Antelope Canyon. While our Mighty 5®️ tour doesn’t include a stop at the Grand Canyon, it is a great chance to experience the beautiful and unique parks that Utah is known for.

Can’t decide which tour is right for you? Give us a call today to talk to one of our experienced agents about customizing your next trip.

Spots are filling up fast for our fall 2021 tours. Book your spot today by reaching out directly at (435) 940-4212 or through your local travel agent. Start planning your 2022 vacation to guarantee your choice of trips and dates.

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