The USA is packed to the brim with jaw-dropping scenery and views you can’t miss. From the towering redwoods of California to the ancient beauty of the Appalachian Trail, nearly every state has something to offer for the hiker fanatic. Some states offer more than others however, so if you’re planning to pack in as many hikes as possible on your next trip, use the list below as a starting point. Pack your hiking and camping essentials and get moving!
The deserts of Arizona get hot, but it’s impossible to beat the sheer majesty of the Grand Canyon. Running over 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, there are over 30 different trails that all lead to gorgeous views of one of the Wonders of the World. The trails vary in difficulty, so anyone from new hikers to experienced backpackers can find something fun and challenging for them. Some of the most famous trails include the Bright Angel Trail, the South Rim Trail, and the Hermit Trail.
If desert landscapes aren’t your thing, you can head down to Havasu Falls and see this beautiful oasis. This trail requires a special permit to hike since it is in the Havasupai Indian Reservation, but it’s worth it to see the crystal blue waterfall in all its glory. The permit also pays for a camping spot (or the Havasupai Lodge if you prefer to be less exposed), so after the difficult journey you can kick back and enjoy the views for the night.
Colorado is a dream come true for any hiker. The Rocky Mountain National Park, located in the northern center of the state, is home to hundreds of miles of trails that lead to some of the world’s most beautiful rivers, forests, and lakes. While gorgeous year-round, the best time to visit is in the early fall. The crowds start to decrease by September, and the beautiful autumn colors will take your breath away.
There are still many options for hikes outside of the Rocky Mountains. Boulder is famous for the many trailheads that dot the outskirts of the city, such as the Boulder Canyon Trail and Mount Sanitas Trail. On the western slope, Durango is a hotspot for simple day hikes you can do with the whole family.
Keeping the current trend of states in the West, we have the Beehive State. With five national parks, each boasting their own unique environments, you are sure to find something special in Utah. Zion National Park feels like an alien world when you enter the ancient tunnels carved out by the Virgin River. One of the most spectacular, and most difficult, is the Subway hike. An amazing rainbow of stone and water make this into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Like the Havasu Falls, these require a special permit as well, so make sure if you want to see it you apply well in advance.
Arches National Park is another extremely popular park for hikers. There are over 2,000 naturally formed sandstone arches that dominate the area, along with other geological wonders like rock fins and balanced rocks. Delicate Arch is one of the most famous of these arches and requires a three-mile round trip journey to reach. If you’re feeling daring, see if you can conquer the Angel’s Landing hike.
Montana is the least populated state on this list. While it may be short on people, there is no shortage of beautiful mountain scenery to view from its numerous trails. It is home to the Glacier National Park, where you can find it snowing even in summer. When you visit you can see over a hundred different glaciers, something you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the continental USA.
The Highline Trail is a must see for any avid hiker in the area. This trail generally follows the continental divide for almost 15 miles. Between the glaciers and the wildflowers, you’ll be surrounded by nature’s beauty. Be careful if you go; grizzly bears are a regular sighting in much of Montana, and while they may be majestic, they can seriously hurt you, so make sure you pack some bear mace.
The Golden State is home to more almost every natural wonder you can imagine. Forest, beaches, mountains, and even deserts in the southern end, you can find a hike that suits your tastes. For something truly special, check out the Redwood National Park. Home to some of the largest trees in the world, there are dozens of trails, including some that can lead out to the ocean (weather permitting).
In addition to being the home of the tallest trees on the planet, California is also home to North America’s tallest waterfall. Yosemite Falls, located in Yosemite National Park, is easy to hike to for all skill levels. The hike itself is as beautiful as the falls and is an absolute must-see.
Volcanoes, rainforests, and mountains, oh my! In the far west corner of the USA sits this treasure trove of a state filled with all sorts of interesting hikes. Mt. Rainier is an active volcano surrounded by ice, wildflowers, and ancient forests, and is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country thanks to this unique combination of climate and geography.
If you want to camp by a crystal-clear lake, you can do so at the North Cascades National Park, which has over 500 lakes in its borders. These are difficult to get to but is so worth the cross-country hike to find these untouched gems of nature.
Finally, only two hours away from Seattle, is the Olympic Mountain Range. There are trails that take you through the rainforests and emerge on the beautiful coastline. You can reach the summit of many of the mountains with a little skill and perseverance. There is truly something for everyone in Washington.
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