This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Memorial Day weekend gave outdoor enthusiasts a glimpse at what summer travel will be like during the centennial of the National Park Service.

Popular western destinations such as Arches, Canyonlands, Zion and the Grand Canyon posted advisories about full parking lots and long waits at entrance stations.

And, at national and state park, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management campgrounds, finding a spot at all but the most remote places could be a challenge.

It's almost to the point where outdoor enthusiasts have brought urban traffic jams, crowds and noise pollution to the deserts and woods with them.

So, what should families do to prepare in advance?

First, plan trips — especially on weekends — as far ahead as possible. Use reservation sites such as to not only book campgrounds but to look for alternatives should your first choice be booked.

This is also true for hotels, motels and private campgrounds. Gateway towns such as Moab, Springdale and Torrey as well as lodges in popular national parks often need to be booked months in advance.

Yet, if you have waited until the last minute, you can often find rooms, especially using a number of popular online sites. But you might pay more than you expected or settle for something less than ideal.

Once at the destination, the best way to beat crowds is to get up early for hikes and drives, often when most folks are waking up or enjoying breakfast. The light is beautiful, especially at dawn, and temperatures much more manageable.

The same strategy can be enjoyed late in the day. When others are headed to dinner, get out into the parks for a dusk hike. Wildlife viewing is also good right before sunset as well.

Then, do "town" activities during the busy, hot time of day. Hit a museum, go to the motel pool, see a movie, do some shopping or even take a nap to recover from that early wakeup time.

Being willing to walk or drive a bit farther than average folks can also help beat the crowds. Ask at a visitor center for a less crowded hike. Seek out guidebooks for destinations that aren't quite as popular.

Also consider avoiding the better known national parks altogether during the busy tourist season and look for lesser known national monuments, state parks or forest service facilities.

Finally, when it is impossible to avoid the crowds, make the best of it by being friendly and patient while enjoying the simple pleasure of people watching.