Today, national parks are more crowded than ever, attracting visitors from around the world. Each year, millions line up to visit Utah’s national parks, making solitude increasingly rare. But, beyond the iconic landscapes is a collection of diverse national monuments, historic sites, and smaller parks that offer remarkable experiences. KUED highlights the hidden gems outside Utah’s national parks in National Parks: Beyond the Crowds.
From the near-urban setting of Timpanogos Cave National Monument to the natural amphitheater of Cedar Breaks National Monument, Beyond the Crowds provides an eye-opening introduction to remote adventure destinations. Viewers can explore secluded canyons of Lake Powell in kayaks while also hiking to ancient trees in Great Basin National Park – the newest park in the National Park Service.
Produced by KUED’s Nancy Green, Joe Prokop, and Paige Sparks, the documentary is part of KUED’s Year of the Parks, celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service.
“While each destination we visit is unique, we used a treasure trove of vintage home movies to weave continuity throughout the piece,” says Prokop. “One family seemed to travel to all the national monuments during the 1950s and ‘60s. We discovered their footage at the Utah State Historical Society and The University of Utah’s Marriott Library. It’s a reminder that the wanderlust that drives us to seek more secluded attractions is not a new phenomenon.”
Green says the film crew encountered solitude at every location during the film’s production. “What amazed me was the fact that we’d drive up to a place, park, go to film, and literally be the only ones there,” she says. “I didn’t know you could find that kind of secluded and intimate experience with the landscape anymore.”
Beyond the Crowds also takes viewers on the road less traveled to the majestic Natural Bridges National Monument; Hovenweep National Monument, a spectacular collection of towers poised on the edge of a canyon, once home to over 2,500 ancestral Puebloans; the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where actors re-create the moment the rails were joined in 1869; Dinosaur National Monument, where fossils of dinosaurs remain embedded inside a giant rock wall; and to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, accessed via Lake Powell, which was once a sacred site of the Diné.
“For the anniversary of the National Park Service, we wanted to call attention and celebrate these lesser known gems,” says Green.