We talk a lot on this site about visiting the most popular sights outside of peak hours, but for the most part, that really means choosing sunrise or sunset to see the most popular spots in each park. While we understand that circumstances may dictate this as an impossibility, there are a number of reasons why making the effort can make for some of the most rewarding parts of your trip
Everything is Less Crowded, Especially at Sunrise.
Souls brave enough to make it to landmarks and trailheads at dawn are usually rewarded with having the park to themselves. Here’s a photo of the crowds on Moro Rock at 7AM. For as much as setting that alarm hurts, the payoff is nearly always worth it.
More surprisingly, sunset also sees the park empty out, albeit to a lesser extent than the early morning hours. Lookouts and grand vistas will have their fair share of others seeking nature’s beautiful paintings, but the mayhem and struggles of mid-day will be gone.
The People Who Are There Will Be Just Like You
Those other intrepid adventures seeking nature at its zenith are likely to be of the same spirit as you. They will be there for the peaceful beauty, too, and will help keep the scene as serene as possible. No tour buses, no blaring speakers, just the still quiet air of the morning or evening.
Wildlife is More Active, Especially The Ones You Want To See
Elk, wolves, deer, moose, bears, and all the other majestic mammals still roaming the North American wild are most active in these quieter, cooler hours. TFW your heart skips a beat seeing wildlife in their home is a thrill unlike any other. Just remember to give the animals enough space and practice safe selfies.
Parking, Entrance Lines, and Shuttle Lines are of No Concern
Since fewer people are out exploring, naturally that means all the other hassles that come with peak hours can simply be forgotten. Shuttles that are more akin to sardine cans at noon (or 8am at Yosemite), are empty in twilight hours. Overflowing parking lots are barely dotted. Half hour waits just to get into the parks simply don’t happen.
Your Photos Will Be Better Than Everyone Else’s
If you need us to tell you that dawn and dusk are the most beautiful times a day...you need to get out more. There’s a reason Hollywood cinematographers refer to it as “magic hour.” Even if photography isn’t a passion of yours, there’s something incredibly satisfying about looking at a beautiful photo and being able to say, “I took that.”