From hiking through national parks to experiencing the Alaskan wildlife and wilderness, there are plenty of walking holiday destinations in the USA to consider before jetting off.
Here’s a quick guide to the best locations for hiking holidays in the USA and what kinds of things you can expect from each.
Best USA Hiking Holiday Destinations
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has over 700 miles of hiking trails that cover the nearly 1 million acres of wilderness through northern Montana. The landscapes range from forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes.
Keep an eye out for the bears, beavers, and bighorn sheep that inhabit the park as you walk up the high mountains and streams of fresh water around it. You can find trails that cater to all, including some accessible by wheelchair.
The nature of Glacier’s position on the Continental Divide means that the weather can be highly changeable, so make sure you head out with rain gear and extra clothing; if might feel like a summer day when you start walking, but could quickly drop to feel like a completely different climate.
Many visitors flock to Yosemite National Park’s Yosemite Valley to trek along some of the many common trails. While you might need to rub elbows with other hikers as you navigate world-renowned trails such as the challenging Half Dome Trail, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views.
Try hiking scenic paths like the Four Mile Trail and the Swinging Bridge Trail for a less crowded experience and views of kaleidoscopic wildflowers, time-worn sequoias, and jaw-dropping rock formations.
Within this nearly 750,000-acre park within central California, you will have about 800 miles of trails to choose from. There are glaciers reaching back over 30 million years, ten waterfalls over 500 feet, and plenty of yellow pine and oak forests.
Enchanting and majestic, this magnificent panorama includes El Capitan, “the world’s largest monolith of exposed granite, the distinctive Half Dome granite formation, and Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, measuring 2,425 feet from top to bottom.” Scenic trails for hikers abound.
Yellowstone National Park is a hiker’s paradise in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, with nearly 1,000 miles of hiking trails covering more than 2.2 million acres.
Over 900 miles of hiking trails have 15 more miles of boardwalk, which you can use to reach thermal attractions such as Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs.
Nearly 3,500 square miles in size and covering parts of three states, Yellowstone’s multicolored pools, hot springs, lush forests, and volatile geysers offer a broader range of natural beauty than any other national park.
Also home to an abundance of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk, Yellowstone is famous not only for its natural beauty, but also for its presence of wildlife.
Other common routes are those found in the areas of Canyon Village and Lake Village. Backcountry trails offer a more isolated experience while, and you can return during the summer or fall, for optimum conditions.
Fun Fact! #Yellowstone is both the first US national park, and the first national park in the world! (March 1, 1872) Click To Tweet
The park has numerous campgrounds throughout the park (twelve to be exact), along with nine lodgings, including the Old Faithful Inn and the rustic Roosevelt Lodge.
While the park is huge, it’s also highly visited, so make your accommodation reservation in advance.
Zion National Park
Sandstone cliffs in Zion National Park, with different shades of red, tower over tourists. Three areas contain the trails and attractions of this Utah National Park: Zion Canyon, the Kolob Canyons, and the Zion Wilderness.
Due to their group size limitations and limited facilities, the Kolob Canyons and Zion Wilderness sections cater to explorers. This is some of the most scenic canyon country in the entire United States.
Thanks to its shuttle service to numerous trailheads, including the popular and challenging Narrows, Zion Canyon is the easiest to reach. Nevertheless, bear in mind that the shuttle only runs from spring to fall.
Zion forms part of a collective known as the ‘Mighty 5’ of Utah National Parks. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef are made up of thousands of natural arches, immense and impressive canyons, and “towering buttes and rock faces that have become a nation’s sacred natural treasures.”
The combination of the enormous scale of this National Park and its unique environment makes for an unforgettable experience, even for experienced hikers. Rims of the Grand Canyon have trails with varying difficulty levels and panoramic views.
You’ll find frequented routes along the South Rim of the canyon, including the Bright Angel Trail and the Rim Trail. If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life, then head to the North Rim for trekking trails such as the demanding North Kaibab Trail.
For the ultimate Grand Canyon experience though, nothing beats a stay on the canyon floor at the Phantom Ranch – if you can get in! The place is a different kind of exclusive, being reachable only by mule, on foot, or by rafting the Colorado River.
The park also has seven lodgings above the rim, six in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, and one on the North Rim. Grand Canyon Village also has a supermarket, a variety of restaurants, a small shopping center, and spectacular canyon views.
Grand Teton National Park
The Teton Range forms Grand Teton National Park’s backbone, and hikers here can rely on one-of-a-kind views when winding up and down the peaks.
The park, which sits in the Jackson Hole Valley of Wyoming, with its more than 200 miles of trails, caters to any level of hiker. When you walk the trails, keep your eyes open for bison grazing and bald eagles soaring.
Try also to bring bear spray as black and grizzly bears are frequently seen here. Arrive between mid-May and late September for the best hiking conditions.
Arches National Park
Although some of the rock formations of this east Utah National Park are visible from the path, hiking gives you plenty of opportunities to admire them. The park has spectacular red-rock formations, breathtaking scenic drives, easy hikes with huge rewards.
Many simple itineraries include a loop around Balanced Rock and a short hike to Double Arch, the park’s highest peak. While those who are looking for a challenge should go hiking challenging trails to see sights such as the Fiery Furnace and Delicate Arch.
Pictured above, Delicate Arch is 52 feet tall. But rather than the height, it is the absolute improbability of the structure which is most impressive. Formed over many, many periods of time, the arch is sculpted from distinctive red sandstone which covers the five national parks across Southern Utah.
Arches National Park is subject to extreme temperature variations as a high desert, so explore any possible routes and load up sufficient supplies before embarking.
Olympic National Park
On Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Olympic NP attracts enthusiastic hikers from around the world to its 600-plus miles of top-notch trails. This is one of North America’s greatest wilderness areas, and is a great destination to unplug and disconnect.
Take your time hiking in the old-growth rainforests of the park, through its glacier-capped mountains and along its more than 70-mile-long coastline. You can catch a glimpse of threatened or endangered wildlife such as spotted northern owls and blue whales during your journey.
Trek the Mosses Trail Hall of the Hoh Rain Forest to familiarise yourself with the biodiversity of the park while enjoying a simple walk. The largely roadless interior makes the park a haven for independent exploration and backcountry hiking.
This 90-mile stretch of California coastline, known for its unparalleled natural beauty, is home to 10 state parks.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, the local favorite, offers seven distinct trails that wind through picturesque areas, though three are currently being closed due to damage from wildfires.
Meanwhile, in a relatively undeveloped area, the 4,800-acre Andrew Molera State Park offers even more trails, tempting hiking enthusiasts and anyone looking for unique photo ops.
Although California boasts fairly pleasant year-round weather, visit between June and October to avoid road restrictions and abbreviated business hours.