The national park system in the United States is full of beauty and surprises. Still, youll be wondering if theyre worth it when you run into the crowds of other visitors.

Road Side Viewing

Sure, millions of people visit our national parks each year, miles of cars creep through at a painfully slow pace, parking lots are full and busses are packed. Cars stop in the middle of the road to view wildlife, backing up traffic for miles.

Is it all worth it? Should I just get stuck in a Los Angeles traffic jam with DVD player showing some nice mountain scenery?!

I travel through the Rocky Mountain Nation Park, using Trail Ridge Road, on a regular basis throughout the summer to reach some of my favorite fly fishing spots on the other side of the divide. I also have hiked many of the park trails. Let me tell you, I have seen the frustration of the gridlock national park experience.

Do you think the national park experience is looking out the window of your car or bus? How about stopping at the most popular scenic spots that are located within a stones throwing distance from the parking lots? If you do, well, you likely have missed out on 95 percent of the park and a serine magical experience that only those willing to put on the hiking boots get to see.

The system of roads in a National Park is designed to minimize the impact on the park. It is not designed to get you to the best places. If you do not get off your butt and hike a bit, you are not seeing the beauty of the park. Sure, you may have to deal with the cattle drive to reach your desired trailhead, but a leisurely stroll of about 1 mile leave the hordes of arm chair park goers long behind. You could be standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of people looking across Bear Lake at one moment, and in near solitude one hour later if youre willing to exert just a bit more energy than the majority of the park visitors.

Thanks goodness for the fast food armchair lifestyle!!!! Get on those boots and leave the crowds behind. Its worth it.