Love hiking but feel like you have already explored everything in your own backyard? Consider taking a day hike! Hiking is an experience the whole family or you and your friends can enjoy. Not only is it fun, it’s simple and it’s healthy. And, as an added benefit, you won’t have to empty all of the change out of your pockets because it’s also cost friendly.
Need more reasons to try hiking? There are National Geographic like views that are amazing to see. You get to really immerse yourself in nature. Spending time outdoors has been proven to increase creative problem-solving skills up to 50% according to the Huffington Post. It is great exercise, burning around 500 calories per hour. It literally allows you to clear your mind relieving stress and lowering blood pressure.
Now that you’ve been convinced to climb on board and go on an adventure, be sure to follow our road trip guide if you plan to take the whole family on this cross country road trip adventure in search of the best places to hike in the U.S!
1. Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite welcomes hikers with beautiful waterfalls, views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, and a 14 to 16 miles round trip trail. It has an elevation of upwards of 4800 ft and takes 10-12 hour to complete.
Yosemite National Park is also home to Yosemite Falls which is its highest waterfall. It is also one of the tallest falls in the world and the tallest in the U.S. at 2425 ft. The Upper Falls pool rests at the bottom for those who want to relax after the decent. *Please note this is for expert hikers.
2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The residence of the Grand Canyon, this is one of the seven wonders of the world!! This Park includes both the North Rim and the South Rim. The North Rim is 1000 feet higher than the South Rim but much harder to access. It is suggested that you hike in the South Rim which is the most developed area of Grand Canyon National Park. Sitting at an average elevation of 7000 ft, it is located on the “Arizona” side of the Canyon.
There are numerous ways to enjoy the views in addition to hiking with or without a tour guide, including Jeep Tours, a 45-minute helicopter flight, a bus tour. When hiking on foot or enjoying some of the day by vehicle, keep an eye out for deer, elk, California condors which are the most endangered prey in the world, or a bighorn sheep. There are several lookout points along the way as well. Yavapai Observations Station provides panoramic views of the canyon, the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch.
This is a very busy point of interest for travelers and it would be wise to make reservations if you decide to stay more than a day and hang out at the campgrounds. You can also add some less strenuous entertainment 2 miles south of the park and do some shopping or check out a movie at the IMAX cinema.
3. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California
This destination is considered “the crown jewel” of California’s 280 state parks. It is a reserve that has more than a dozen trails and a reserve dedicated to preserving the wild. You will in a unique adventure as you will be hiking through untouched nature. It boasts rare plant communities, the ability to be one with nature’s zoo and a Mediterranean climate with moderate weather all year long. For those wanting to stay on paved roads you can take in the views via bicycle. It also has four wheelchair accessible routes.
4. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
415 miles of Colorado wilderness, 300+ miles of hiking with a backdrop of wildflowers, wildlife, and wide-open views. You’ll have plenty of company with all the birds, reptiles, bears, elk, moose, and other animals that call this park home. Rocky Mountain is one of the oldest National Parks and is seen by many as an historic adventure.
There are two-mile snowy peaks and thundering rivers. In addition, it includes the mesmerizing Trail Ridge Road which has the highest continuous paved road in the United States. There are crests over 12,000 ft. so prepare by acclimating to the thin air at a tolerable pace. When you make it to the peak you can get a glimpse of Denver, Boulder or even parts of Wyoming. And, if you go in May, there will be pink, blue, and white wildflowers as far as the eye can see.
5. Glacier National Park, Montana
Also referred to as the “Crown of the Continent”, Glacier National Park has many trails. If you are eager to meet up with some mountain goats, head to Hidden Pass. You can also get a great view of Hidden Lake Sperry Glacier basin from there. Check the park status to make sure it isn’t closed due to Grizzly Bear activity.
Another great feature to check out is Ptarmigan Trail. This trail is 10.5 miles and includes Ptarmigan Lake, Elizabeth Lake and the Belly River drainage. It is also known for Ptarmigan tunnel which is man-made and 250 ft taking you through the knife edge ridge of Ptarmigan Wall which has breathtaking views either way you look.
Before you head out in your hiking gear take note of these key tips:
- Check the weather and pack accordingly.
- Choose a trail that matches your level of fitness.
- Get to know the trail before you head out. Pay attention to the number of miles, the elevation, the curves, the rest areas, etc.
- Let someone know where you will be or carry a device like the SPOT (an emergency assistance device that transmits signals through satellite).
- Wear sun protection and dress in layers.
- Take a flashlight in case you are still hiking after sundown.
- Take first aid supplies, something to build/start a fire, food, and water. Make sure your items are all travel sized to keep your baggage light but still have everything you need.
- Pack a small tent for emergency shelter.
- Wear wool or synthetic socks with light hiking boots. Take caution NOT to wear cotton when hiking.
- Bring a map and compass and know how to use them.
- Bring a STERIPEN or something to purify water with if you will be hiking the full day.
- Pack a rain jacket or poncho just in case.
- Plan for 2/3 of the time to ascend and 1/3 of the time to descend.
- Take breaks as needed, especially with high altitudes and oxygen levels.
- Most important, make memories, take pictures, and have fun.
Don’t love hiking but love traveling. Check out our article on top destinations to travel to in 2018!