How to avoid crowd at popular locations

In our hiking experience, the 2 most popular spots we’ve been to are Half Dome in Yosemite National Park and Angels Landing in Zion National Park. By luck and by planning, we’ve managed to visit each of these locations when there are only a handful of people on the trail.

Honestly, in both cases, I would have been terrified if there are as many people on the route as you typically see in photos(Just google it). It’s already scary enough to climb up one way, I cannot imagine climb these routes when there are people around you that you have to pass, or let pass.

So how did we do it? The answer is that we descended during dusk and had to walk in the dark for the last half of the descend. In both cases, we timed the ascend to be near the end of the day but still be able to reach the top in full daylight. This allowed us to climb the cable route on Half Dome without having to pass anyone and allowed us to have few instances where we have to pass someone or vice versa on the Angels Landing final summit push.

Yes, this means that half of the descend would be done in darkness. So headlights and other flashlights are essential. Also, it’s great to have a group around you in case something goes wrong. It’s worth it for us to have the sense of having the trail all to yourselves and not be remind of the normally busy life. No more queuing!

So plan it well and take it slow. This gives a low stress experience to visit these remarkable locations.