Heading deep right into a park’s backcountry, establishing camp, exploring an unspoiled panorama, encountering wildlife,… Spending any variety of nights backpacking in one of many nationwide parks is one thing you’ll always remember.
11 Superior Nationwide Parks for Backpacking Journeys
Under, I’ve collected the very best multi-day hikes in America’s nationwide parks. From the traditional forested mountains of the East to the Southwestern deserts and canyons to the volcanoes and coasts of the Pacific Northwest, you’ll discover epic long-distance trails in each nook of the nation.
Greatest Multi-Day Hikes in USA Nationwide Parks
1. Appalachian Path – Shenandoah Nationwide Park, Virginia
There are greater than 500 miles of mountaineering trails in Shenandoah Nationwide Park, climbing as much as granite summits or working down into the park’s attribute woodland hollows. This consists of 105 miles of the legendary Appalachian Path.
Snaking its method for over 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Path—or AT—runs alongside the complete size of Shenandoah Nationwide Park, the one nationwide park in Virginia.
It follows Skyline Drive, often crossing this scenic mountain highway and persevering with on the opposite facet.
The Appalachian Path enters Shenandoah on the Rockfish Hole Entrance Station within the south, leaving the park in its far northern part. The path runs throughout the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, summiting a number of peaks and providing spectacular views on the way in which.
Backcountry tenting is allowed in Shenandoah Nationwide Park, however there are additionally 4 developed campgrounds, two historic lodges and a number of other cabins accessible.
Moreover, the Potomac Appalachian Path Membership operates six primitive cabins on or close to the Appalachian Path in Shenandoah Nationwide Park.
2. Wonderland Path – Mount Rainier Nationwide Park, Washington
Among the best backpacking loops within the Pacific Northwest, the Wonderland Path circumambulates mighty Mount Rainier.
It’s 93 miles lengthy with a cumulative elevation achieve of about 23,000 ft. The path passes via a number of main life zones in Mount Rainier Nationwide Park, dipping into forests and descending into valleys, climbing slopes and cresting ridges.
This is likely one of the greatest multi-day hikes in America’s nationwide parks, primarily due to its selection and issue, but in addition as a result of it provides superb views of “Tacoma”, one of many Native American names for Mount Rainier.
Most individuals full their Wonderland Path hike in 10 days, however the Nationwide Park Service permits 14 days to finish it.
On the way in which, there are quite a few campgrounds, together with three developed campgrounds and no fewer than eighteen backcountry wilderness camps.
Notice that you simply’ll have to get a wilderness allow for all in a single day journeys within the wilderness of Mount Rainier Nationwide Park.
3. John Muir Path – Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon Nationwide Parks, California
When you’re searching for the very best in a single day backpacking trails within the nationwide parks, I don’t suppose there’s a greater one than the epic John Muir Path.
The easy cause for that is that it runs via no fewer than three California nationwide parks, overlaps with the Pacific Crest Path and options among the best mountain surroundings within the nation.
And if that’s not sufficient, that is additionally the place that enjoys the sunniest and mildest local weather of any main mountain vary on Earth.
The John Muir Path begins within the coronary heart of one of many grandest U.S. nationwide parks—the Yosemite Valley. It then runs via the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Sequoia Nationwide Park earlier than ending on the summit of Mount Whitney in Kings Canyon Nationwide Park, the very best mountain within the continental United States (14,505 ft).
Most of its course is in designated Sierra Nevada Mountains wilderness. On this sensational multi-day hike via three nationwide parks, you’ll wander throughout alpine meadows, alongside shimmering lakes, previous sheer granite cliffs and beneath towering peaks.
It’s actually a once-in-a-lifetime nationwide parks expertise, one of many very best backpacking trails in America.
4. Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Hike – Grand Canyon Nationwide Park, Arizona
For an epic journey in a desert wilderness, there are few—if any—higher backpacking journeys in America than a Grand Canyon crossing. Mountain climbing the Grand Canyon from rim to rim means descending all the way in which to the underside of one of many world’s largest canyons and climbing again out.
Read more Herman Gulch to Herman Lake Hike
It’s a multi-day nationwide park hike that’ll check your psychological power, push you to your bodily limits, and engrave wonderful moments in your reminiscence.
That is, nonetheless, not merely a “stroll within the park.” In reality, a rim-to-rim hike in Grand Canyon Nationwide Park can have disastrous penalties for people who find themselves unprepared or misjudge their health ranges.
That mentioned, in the event you’ve educated, accomplished your analysis and have the correct mountaineering gear, you’re in for the journey of a lifetime. That is with out query top-of-the-line backpacking journeys in nationwide parks within the U.S.
Mainly, you've got two choices to hike from the North Rim right down to the Colorado River and as much as the South Rim. (This north-south route is really helpful as a result of the way in which up is considerably shorter—the North Rim is over 1,000 ft larger than the South Rim.)
- North Kaibab Path to River Path to Shiny Angel Path
- North Kaibab Path to South Kaibab Path
I’d counsel the primary choice, the North Kaibab Path down and Shiny Angel Path up, just because, though it’s slightly longer, it brings you straight into Grand Canyon Village.
Since it is a point-to-point hike, you’ll both have to have two vehicles or use a transportation service. In case you solely have one automobile, an ideal answer is taking the Trans-Canyon Shuttle, which commutes between the North and South Rims. One-way tickets price $90.
Throughout this hike, you’ll stroll via each life zone between Mexico and Canada. The Grand Canyon is dwelling to 5 of the seven life zones on Earth and three of North America’s 4 kinds of desert.
On the way in which, you’ll additionally move three of the 4 areas of geological time. That is, fairly actually, a journey via time and house.
The Nationwide Park Service recommends taking your time for this difficult hike—it’s 5,740 ft down and 4,340 ft up. Most hikers full the 24-mile crossing of the Grand Canyon from rim to rim in 4 days and three nights.
There are three campgrounds on the way in which—Cottonwood, Shiny Angel and Indian Backyard—whereas the highly regarded Phantom Ranch provides extra “luxurious” lodging close to the Colorado River.
5. Painted Desert Backpacking Journey – Petrified Forest Nationwide Park, Arizona
For a brief backpacking journey in one of many nationwide parks, Arizona’s Petrified Forest Nationwide Park is a superb choice. It’s actually accessible—the one nationwide park with a bit of Route 66—and doesn’t require an entire lot of preparation.
There’s lots to see and do in Petrified Forest, from admiring colourful petrified wooden to strolling via wonderful mesas and visiting historic websites. Within the park’s northern space, you’ll discover the spectacular Painted Desert.
A wild desert full of multicolored badlands, the Painted Desert is likely one of the best wild tenting areas within the nationwide parks. The park’s solely highway, which runs alongside the plateau above the Painted Desert, provides panoramic views.
From Kachina Level, close to the Painted Desert Inn, certainly one of my favourite nationwide park buildings, the Painted Desert Wilderness Entry Path snakes down into the badlands beneath.
When you’re on the backside, lower than a mile from the rim, the path all of the sudden disappears and also you’re free to wander round as you please.
You'll be able to actually go and camp wherever you need within the designated Nationwide Wilderness Space.
The one necessities are that you simply camp at the very least a mile from the trailhead, don’t go away any waste behind and don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you. Charcoal or wooden fires aren’t allowed both. In addition to that, you principally have limitless backpacking freedom.
Backpacking within the Painted Desert, certainly one of my favourite nationwide park tenting experiences, might be a straightforward in a single day journey or a multi-day journey deep into the desert wilderness. It’s phenomenal, particularly as a result of the star-peppered night time sky is breathtaking.
- Distance: No less than 2 miles
- Length: 2-5 days
- Greatest time to hike: March-Might and September-October
- Be taught extra: Painted Desert Tenting Information
6. Chisos Mountains – Large Bend Nationwide Park, Texas
The Chisos Mountains, with 7,825-foot Emory Peak as their pinnacle, are the one mountain vary in America positioned solely inside one nationwide park.
A distant space in southwestern Texas, it’s a real backpacker’s paradise. Ready and skilled hikers will discover tons of of miles of trails to discover right here. A lot of it's desert mountaineering, although, with complicated topography and sometimes unclear trails.
This implies you’ll want a topographic map and compass—and the talents to make use of them. Different Large Bend Nationwide Park backpacking necessities embody correct mountaineering boots, loads of meals and water, a hat and sunscreen, and an excellent backpacking tent.
There’s no distinct route that’s “higher” than every other within the Chisos Mountains. Merely put, wherever you go, it’ll be wonderful.
The quite a few Large Bend Nationwide Park mountaineering trails within the Chisos Mountains let you piece collectively comparatively brief loops, whereas additionally providing you to alternative to create an epic long-distance desert journey.
This map exhibits all of the backpacking trails within the Chisos Mountains, in addition to the 42 backcountry campsites, that are divided into 14 tenting areas. You’ll want a backcountry allow for in a single day mountaineering in Large Bend Nationwide Park, in addition to an in depth itinerary description.
Moreover, black bear and mountain lion encounters aren’t uncommon in these wild mountains. So, it’s crucial to know what to do whenever you see one. (See beneath for extra details about wildlife security whereas backpacking in nationwide parks.)
7. The Wilderness Coast – Olympic Nationwide Park, Washington
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Olympic Nationwide Park protects greater than 73 miles of the wildest and most pristine pure shoreline within the decrease 38 states.
It’s an impressive coastal wilderness with only some highway entry factors, a spot characterised by crashing waves, sea stacks, dramatic cliffs, dense forests and considerable wildlife. The Wilderness Coast provides among the greatest multi-day hikes in nationwide parks.
There are a number of brief and lengthy mountaineering routes alongside the coast of Olympic Nationwide Park, divided into the North Olympic Coast and South Olympic Coast trails.
For a fast style of this coastal wilderness, you'll be able to go for a 1-mile one-way in a single day hike to Gap-in-the-Wall on Rialto Seaside. On the other facet of the Olympic backpacking spectrum lies the epic 35-mile multi-day hike from Shi Shi Seaside to Rialto Seaside.
Backpacking the Olympic Nationwide Park coast entails numerous seaside mountaineering. Which means that it’ll take quite a bit longer to cowl sure distances than what you could be used to. Preserve this in thoughts when planning your journey.
It’s additionally necessary to concentrate on and keep watch over the tides. Since this coastal journey will take you previous a number of headlands and cliffs, it’s attainable to get lower off by the excessive tide.
In contrast to the opposite long-distance hikes in nationwide parks featured on this put up, your Wilderness Coast packing record should embody a tide chart and a watch. (Telephones can die, so a watch is totally important.)
Whereas a multi-day backpacking journey alongside the Olympic Nationwide Park coast requires preparation, permits, consciousness and abilities, it’s an exceptional expertise.
You’ll get to discover certainly one of America’s most rugged coastlines, which comes with world-class wildlife viewing alternatives. Black bears, elk, whales, sea otters, bald eagles and numerous tide pool creatures all name this coast dwelling.
8. Teton Crest Path – Grand Teton Nationwide Park, Wyoming
Among the best nationwide parks for backpacking amongst wildlife, Grand Teton Nationwide Park is dwelling to iconic American megafauna, from grizzly bears, mountain lions and wolves to elk, American bison and moose. It’s certainly one of my high nationwide parks to see wild animals.
Grand Teton can be dwelling to certainly one of America’s best long-distance nationwide park trails. The Teton Crest Path runs via the park’s excessive nation, from lake to lake, throughout ridges, mountain passes and mountain meadows.
A mixture of a number of brief trails in Grand Teton Nationwide Park, the Teton Crest Path’s distance varies relying on which trails you hyperlink collectively. Sometimes, this spectacular multi-day trek is between 35 and 45 miles lengthy.
A preferred start line is the Granite Canyon Trailhead close to the park’s southern boundary. The path then climbs via Granite Canyon to the Loss of life Canyon Shelf, persevering with throughout the Grand Teton excessive nation to both Cascade Canyon or the Paintbrush Divide.
The lengthy model of the Teton Crest Path (down Paintbrush Canyon) ends on the Leigh Lake Trailhead, whereas a shorter route (down Cascade Canyon) terminates on the Jenny Lake Trailhead.
For an outline of the Grand Teton Nationwide Park path choices for a multi-day Teton Crest hike, try the park’s backcountry journey planner.
Clearly, that is bear nation—each grizzlies and black bears abound right here—and it’s necessary to hold bear cannisters on backpacking journeys in Grand Teton. At all times carry bear spray, too, and know find out how to use it!
9. Haleakala Crater Crossing – Haleakala Nationwide Park, Hawaii
Rising greater than 10,000 ft above the Pacific Ocean, the Haleakala Volcano dominates jap Maui, Hawaii. This majestic mountain is dwelling to among the world’s most exceptional landscapes, animals and vegetation.
It additionally provides one of many best backpacking experiences in america.
The Haleakala Crater—technically a valley—is in Haleakala Nationwide Park’s Summit Space, a spot dwelling to quite a few cinder cones and an aeolian cinder desert.
There are some wonderful day hikes on this space, in addition to a little shrubland campground. Backpackers, too, can discover and wander to their coronary heart’s content material.
Two trails lead deep down into the Haleakala Crater: the Halemau’u Path and the Keonehe’ehe’e Path (often known as the Sliding Sands Path).
The shortest route throughout the Haleakala Crater is the Sliding Sands Path. Beginning on the Haleakala Customer Middle close to the summit, it runs to the Kapalaoa Cabin (5.6 miles from the trailhead) and continues to the Palikū Cabin and Campground on the far finish of the crater (one other 3.Three miles).
After spending an evening or two on the Palikū Campground, you'll be able to retrace your steps the way in which you got here. I do advocate, nonetheless, taking a detour alongside Pele’s Paint Pot, certainly one of Haleakala’s most scenic areas. That detour will add about one additional mile to your return journey.
Notice that wilderness tenting in Haleakala Nationwide Park require a allow. These permits are free, issued on a first-come first-served foundation, and require a photograph ID and 10-minute orientation.
Moreover, I've to level out that, though chances are you'll be in Hawaii, that is desert mountaineering at its best. Water is extraordinarily scarce or unavailable altogether, whereas shade is nearly non-existent.
Deliver loads of water, put on a hat and slop on sunscreen. You’ll want all of it.
- Distance: No less than 18 miles
- Length: 2-Three days
- Greatest time to hike: All 12 months
- Extra data: Wilderness Tenting in Haleakala
10. Coastal Path – Redwood Nationwide & State Parks, California
Though the Redwood Nationwide and State Parks are greatest recognized for his or her towering redwoods, you'll be able to expertise a wholly totally different facet of the park complicated on the Coastal Path.
Operating from Crescent Seaside to Elk Meadow, this improbable 70-mile Redwood path parallels the rugged Pacific coast of Northern California.
Alongside the way in which, hikers can discover tidepools, stroll alongside redwood-topped cliffs and throughout sandy seashores. Wildlife abounds right here, from sea gulls, starfish, crabs and sea lions to Roosevelt elk and the occasional black bear.
There are 5 backcountry campgrounds alongside the path, positioned conveniently inside a day’s stroll from each other.
The path additionally passes by the extraordinary Fern Canyon and Gold Bluffs Seaside and Campground, two of my favourite areas in the complete Redwood Nationwide and State Parks complicated.
11. Cascade Go to Stehekin – North Cascades Nationwide Park, Washington
With a minimum of 93% of its space designated as wilderness, the North Cascades Nationwide Park Service Complicated is the final word backpacking paradise. There’s just one highway in North Cascades Nationwide Park—and it’s barely 6 miles lengthy and unpaved.
On the finish of that highway, nonetheless, is the place to begin of top-of-the-line backpacking journeys in America’s nationwide parks. The Cascade Go Path takes hikers to the alpine meadows, glaciers and epic views of the North Cascades.
At 3.7 miles a method, that is the most well-liked day hike in North Cascades Nationwide Park. (It’s the one car-accessible trailhead within the nationwide park, too.)
From Cascade Go, you'll be able to take a facet journey on the Sahale Arm Path to the bottom of the large Sahale Glacier. Past Cascade Go beckons a pristine mountain wilderness dotted by a handful of backcountry campsites.
That is additionally a wildlife haven, a panorama inhabited by pikas, marmots, mountain goats, deer and black bears. Just a few grizzlies are thought to stay in these mountains, too, however confirmed sightings, not to mention encounters, are extraordinarily uncommon.
From the move, the Cascade Go Path winds its method eastward and downward to Stehekin, a distant lakeside group that’s accessibly solely on foot or by boat. At Excessive Bridge, you'll be able to hop on the shuttle bus to Stehekin village.
Doing the Cascade Go to Stehekin hike as a one-way through hike requires some critical logistical planning, although. You’ll want each a automobile shuttle between two fairly distant spots, in addition to a pre-booked ferry ticket from Stehekin to the city of Chelan throughout Lake Chelan.
Alternatively, you might additionally hand around in Stehekin for a day or two earlier than mountaineering again throughout Cascade Go to the trailhead parking zone.
Wildlife Security Whereas Backpacking within the Nationwide Parks
Occurring multi-day mountaineering journeys in America’s nationwide parks nearly at all times means mountaineering in locations the place wildlife is current. This wildlife consists of shy and normally docile creatures corresponding to marmots, deer and birds, but in addition bigger and probably harmful animals.
Backpacking in wildlife nation requires some preparation, to maintain each you and the animals secure.
Particularly bears are on the radars of most nationwide park backpackers, however there are additionally a number of different animals you will have to look out for. These embody mountain lions (often known as cougars or pumas), rattlesnakes, elk, moose, mountain goats and bison.
I’ve written wildlife security guides in regards to the animals you’re most certainly to run into when backpacking in nationwide parks. Encounters with these animals may flip nasty in the event you don’t know what to do or find out how to behave.
Subsequently, in the event you’re occurring a multi-day hike in a park the place any of those animals are current, it’d be a good suggestion to learn via the weblog posts beneath.
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In any case, it’s sensible to at all times deliver bear spray on in a single day hikes in nationwide parks.
This potent sort of pepper spray works on principally all animals which have a nostril, eyes and lungs. This consists of black and grizzly bears (clearly), but in addition mountain lions, wolves and even moose and elk.
Have You Ever Been on a Nationwide Park Backpacking Journey? Which Are Your Favourite Lengthy-Distance Trails in Nationwide Parks? Share Your Journey Under!
Different Nationwide Park Actions
- Chicken Watching
- Day Mountain climbing
- Mountain Biking
- Highway Biking
- Scenic Drives
- Northern Lights Viewing
- Wildlife Watching