America’s Best Backpacking

The United States has some of the most breathtaking and exhilarating backpacking experiences in the world. From the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains in the West to the lush forests of the Appalachian Trail in the East, each adventure promises awe-inspiring scenery, unforgettable experiences, and a true connection with nature.

Looking to plan that unforgettable backpacking trip? Are you overwhelmed by all the amazing choices? Never fear, we did the heavy lifting for you. Here’s our list of the Top 15 backpacking adventures in the good ol’ U.S.A.

America’s Best Backpacking
Backpacking offers a sense of freedom and self-reliance that’s hard to find elsewhere. And let’s not forget the incredible landscapes you’ll encounter along the way.

Top 15 Backpacking Adventures in the U.S.

Our Top 15 list has something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned backpacker looking for your next challenge or a newbie eager to explore the great outdoors. We have you covered. Let’s dig in!

#1. Yosemite National Park (California)

Welcome to the land of granite giants and towering waterfalls! Yosemite National Park is a backpacker’s paradise. The High Sierra Loop is the ultimate way to experience its awe-inspiring beauty. Strap on your pack and prepare to be amazed as you traverse alpine meadows, granite peaks, and crystal-clear lakes. Don’t forget to stop and snap a selfie at iconic spots like Half Dome and Clouds Rest. (You’ll want proof that you conquered this epic adventure.)

#2. Glacier National Park (Montana)

Prepare to be transported to a winter wonderland straight out of a postcard. Glacier National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country. The Continental Divide Trail offers a front-row seat to all its glory. From towering peaks to pristine alpine lakes, every step of this trek is a feast for the eyes. Just be sure to keep an eye out for grizzly bears and mountain goats. They’re the real celebrities of this show.

#3. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

Ready for a journey to the bottom of the world’s most famous chasm? The Grand Canyon is a backpacker’s dream destination. The Rim-to-Rim Trail is the ultimate way to experience its dizzying depths. Strap on your boots and prepare for a steep descent into the heart of the canyon, where towering cliffs and ancient rock formations await. And don’t forget to pack plenty of water—the desert heat can be unforgiving, especially in the summer months.

America’s Best Backpacking
Grab your gear, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

#4. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

Get ready to channel your inner mountaineer and tackle one of Colorado’s most iconic peaks! Longs Peak is the crown jewel of Rocky Mountain National Park. Longs Peak Trail is your ticket to the summit. Lace up your boots and prepare for a challenging ascent through alpine tundra, past shimmering lakes, and up steep, rocky switchbacks. But trust us, the views from the top are worth every sweaty step. Just be sure to snap a selfie to make your friends back home jealous.

#5. Olympic National Park (Washington)

Step into a world straight out of a fairy tale in Olympic National Park! The Enchanted Valley is a backpacker’s dream come true, with its lush rainforests, thundering waterfalls, and towering peaks. Follow the Quinault River as it winds its way through the valley, keeping an eye out for wildlife along the way. And when you reach Anderson Pass, be sure to take a moment to soak in the magic of this truly enchanting place.

#6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina/Tennessee)

Embark on the adventure of a lifetime along the legendary Appalachian Trail! Stretching over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, the AT is the longest continuous footpath in the United States. The section that runs through Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most scenic. Prepare for breathtaking views, challenging terrain, and encounters with fellow hikers from all walks of life. And who knows? You just might find yourself transformed by the beauty and camaraderie of this iconic trail.

America’s Best Backpacking
Look for a pack that fits your body like a hug from your favorite hiking buddy. It should sit comfortably, with the weight evenly distributed.

#7. Acadia National Park (Maine)

Escape the crowds and discover the wild beauty of Acadia National Park’s lesser-known gem: Isle au Haut. Accessible only by ferry, this remote island in Maine offers miles of pristine coastline, rugged cliffs, and lush forests just waiting to be explored. Set up camp at the Duck Harbor Campground and spend your days hiking scenic trails, kayaking along rocky shores, and soaking in the tranquility of this secluded paradise.

#8. Green Mountain National Forest (Vermont)

In Vermont’s Green Mountains, take a journey along the Long Trail, one of the oldest long-distance hiking trails in the country. Stretching over 270 miles from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border, the Long Trail offers a true backcountry experience with rugged terrain, panoramic views, and a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re tackling a section hike or thru-hiking the entire trail, you’re sure to be rewarded with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for the beauty of New England’s wilderness.

#9. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

Welcome to America’s first national park, where geysers erupt, bison roam, and adventure awaits around every corner! Yellowstone National Park is a backpacker’s playground, and the Lamar River Trail is your ticket to exploring its wild heart. Follow the meandering Lamar River as it winds its way through lush valleys and past bubbling hot springs, keeping an eye out for iconic wildlife like grizzly bears, wolves, and elk along the way. Just be sure to pack your bear spray and your sense of wonder—you’ll need both on this unforgettable journey.

America’s Best Backpacking
When you’re out in the wilderness, it’s important to tread lightly and leave the landscape as you found it. That means packing out all your trash, staying on designated trails, and minimizing your impact on plants, animals, and other visitors.

#10. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (California)

Prepare to be humbled by the sheer size and beauty of California’s towering giants! Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are home to some of the largest trees on the planet, and the John Muir Trail is your ticket to exploring their ancient realm. Strap on your pack and prepare for a journey through dense forests, past thundering waterfalls, and up to alpine meadows dotted with colorful wildflowers. And when you reach the end of the trail, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve just hiked in the footsteps of a true wilderness legend.

#11. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

Get ready to be blown away by the rugged beauty of Washington’s North Cascades! Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm are two of the park’s most iconic trails, offering stunning views of jagged peaks, sparkling glaciers, and emerald-green valleys. Lace up your boots and prepare for a challenging but rewarding trek through old-growth forests, past alpine lakes, and up to panoramic viewpoints that will take your breath away. And when you reach the top, be sure to take a moment to savor the feeling of standing on top of the world. It’s a moment you’ll never forget.

#12. Zion National Park (Utah)

Zion National Park’s Narrows is a backpacking adventure like no other. It’s where towering sandstone walls rise hundreds of feet above you and the Virgin River flows at your feet. Strap on your waterproof boots and get ready to wade through ankle-deep water, squeeze through narrow passages, and marvel at the sheer beauty of your surroundings. As you make your way from Chamberlain’s Ranch to the Temple of Sinawava, be sure to keep an eye out for hidden waterfalls, hanging gardens, and ancient petroglyphs etched into the canyon walls.

America’s Best Backpacking
Backpacking is an immersive outdoor experience that allows you to explore remote wilderness areas, connect with nature, and challenge yourself physically and mentally—all while carrying everything you need on your back.

#13. White Mountain National Forest (New Hampshire)

Calling all East Coast adventurers! If you’re looking for a challenge closer to home, the White Mountains of New Hampshire offer some of the most rugged and rewarding backpacking in the region. The Presidential Traverse is a classic route that takes you across the summits of several of the range’s highest peaks, including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. Be prepared for ever-changing weather conditions, stunning alpine scenery, and a sense of accomplishment like no other.

#14. Denali National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

For those seeking an expedition-level adventure, look no further than Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. The Muldrow Glacier Route offers a true wilderness experience, traversing rugged terrain, crevasse fields, and icy glaciers. Make your way toward the towering summit of Denali, the highest peak in North America. There’s stunning views of the Alaska Range and abundant wildlife sightings along the way. This backpacking journey is not for the faint of heart. But for those willing to take on the challenge, the rewards are immeasurable.

#15. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

Prepare to be awed by the dramatic beauty of the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park. The Teton Crest Trail offers an unforgettable backpacking adventure, traversing alpine meadows, deep canyons, and rugged peaks as you make your way from Teton Pass to String Lake. With breathtaking views of the iconic Tetons, sparkling alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife, this trail is a must-do for any outdoor enthusiast looking to experience the majesty of the American West.

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