This is the time of year that many tourist-centered locations, such as National Parks, slim down their staff, close up most doors, and shorten their hours. Many parks and towns in the northern US even close roads due to autumn snows that make travel hazardous. So, why choose this time of year to travel? If you are savvy enough to keep track of the weather and flexible enough to adjust your plans accordingly, off-season travel can be the best time to have an adventure.
We find off-season travel to be the best time to get into places that might otherwise be too busy. We stopped at a roadside pull-out for the view featured in this photo, the Lamar Valley at Yellowstone National Park on a very cold November morning, to listen for wolves. We were in this spot for over thirty quiet minutes before one other lone car even passed by us on the road. In contrast, we have been to this spot in both spring and summer and you often can’t stop off the road here due to the high traffic volume. This was one of our finest “peak” moments ever in off-season travel, as we did indeed get to hear the Lamar Valley wolf pack howling off in the distance for quite a long time, and had the experience all to ourselves.
As autumn trickles into winter, don’t be afraid to venture out to popular locations,especially National or State Parks, in a season where less is truly more. You will find some pristine moments and unforgettable experiences mixed in among the cold and often snowy, roads, buildings, and wild lands along your trek. If you are looking for some northern US off-season experiences, be sure to check out another of our winter experiences, Wind Cave National Park, on our website.
Kari & Tom Tonkin
Nature Tech Family
Thanks to the Tonkin family over at naturetechfam.com for some timely advice and inspiration to get outside even as the weather turns cold. Check out more of their outdoor family adventures on their blog!