Shoulder Season Adventures

What shoulder season can look like!

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What shoulder season can also look like…

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I love to travel during shoulder season. For those of you that are unfamiliar with what shoulder season is it’s the time right BEFORE or right AFTER the peak tourist seasons for a destination.

Why would you want to travel somewhere during shoulder season?
1. Lower prices.
2. Less crowds.
3. Opportunity for more authentic and random experiences with the locals.
4. The chance to visit somewhere when it’s different than what everybody knows it as.

However before everyone stops going to places during peak seasons and only goes during shoulder seasons let me remind you of the two photos above. The first was trip to Devils Tower National Monument, looks pretty nice there huh? It got buried with 10 inches of snow the week after I was there and with my rental car I likely wouldn’t have been able to see it. It was 75 and sunny though when I was there!
The second pic is from a late May trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Typically the high elevation trails aren’t cleared out for mountain summits. But you also don’t have to typically rent snowshoes just to get to 9,000 feet. (Which is exactly what I had to do in order to reach Fern Lake in RMNP.)

My point is shoulder season has it Pro’s and it’s Con’s but I am huge advocate of traveling during shoulder season and overall I believe you win more than you lose. And just a heads up I LOVED the experience I got from hiking in snowshoes and on that type of terrain.

Here are five places I have visited during shoulder season that I would highly recommend:

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Iceland. If you haven’t read some of my stories about tooling around Iceland with three other dudes in a van you can start HERE. Our campsites were half filled instead of sometimes selling out in advance, there were parking spaces at all of the trailheads, and we experienced all four seasons in a week. We also got to see the Northern Lights on their early rise, overall I highly recommend this spot during shoulder season.

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Rocky Mountain National Park. I never realized how much I would have hiking in gators, hiring a private guide to scale a 12k mountain in snowshoes, or the ability to go cross country skiing. Throw in the fact that the wildlife is abundant and the normally wildly insanely packed town of Estes Park is basically empty and I say give it a try. I have visited in late spring and late fall and loved both times. Read about some of the hikes to do HERE.

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Italy. I have heard of people waiting hours to get inside the Vatican, Colosseum, and other hot spots when touring around Italy. Our group waited minutes each time because I went in late February. We had mostly spring weather, 80% less of the crowds, and 50% of the room rates. This one turned out to be a true bargain cost wise and peace of mind wise.

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Northern California. The Redwoods in mid November were still spectacular but there weren’t traffic jams at every grove. The wine country region is still certainly bustling but you don’t have to make a reservation for a tasting two years in advance. You get less daylight hours but you also get more time spent doing what you want and less time spent sitting on the side of a highway. The weather is still of course gorgeous!

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Capitol Reef National Park. I basically had this place to myself in late October. The weather was still in the 50’s and the terrain in solitude was just gorgeous. I almost ran into one issue when the town of Torrey Utah that I was staying at only had one restaurant open; I barely made it before it closed the first night. There was a gas station with trail mix if push had come to shove. The red rocks are still plenty red in Capitol Reef this time of the year but there are so many other plus’s to it!

Of course shoulder season can have its surprises. Restaurants closed, random weather, and so on. But the experiences I have found in shoulder season adventures for the good far outweigh any negatives in my mind.
I chose to write about this topic because of the two recent shoulder season trips I took to the Dakota’s and Colorado. They turned out to be such better trips than what would have occurred going in the peak season.

Shoulder Season IS MY SEASON :)!
Thanks for reading and being a part of the Hashtag 59 community. Do you travel in shoulder season?
Leave a funny story about it below.

Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Mike R and The Hashtag 59 Team