Off season travel—the period from early fall to early summer—is the time when you can discover the "great outdoors" is really a land for all seasons.
For a great many years, my family and I took our annual vacation between Memorial Day and Labor Day, those often hectic months that constitute "the tourist season."
Over the years, however, we came to feel that—because of this tradition—people who are hungry for the peace and comfort and grandeur that our continent's mountains, parks, and wilderness areas promise often trample the very "wildness" they're searching for ... almost literally burying it deep in the mud of their many footprints.
The answer, we've decided, is "off season travel." In this way, not only can we avoid crowds and traffic jams, but we've found that the rates—for everything from cabins to campsites—are often less, and the service is generally better.
Despite the fact that mankind has come to divide the year into spring, summer, fall, and winter ... such seemingly separate time periods are each, in truth, only a part of one fine vestment that Nature—in her great wisdom—weaves to display Earth's beauty to its utmost. But one thread, no matter how brightly colored, cannot indicate the fineness of the finished garment. The only way to experience the full scope of such majestic variety is to become aware, over a period of time, of all the fibers which make up that incredible attire.
In other words, we should allow ourselves the space to look at the land in every one of its seasons ... and not just in the time of the tourist.
The summer visitor never has a chance to see certain aspects of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. From early fall to early summer, after and before the crowds come, there is an opportunity to be alone in such popular tourist destinations and watch their beauty unfold ... for what sometimes seems to be our very own personal enjoyment.