Have ya’ll seen the Western United States? It’s ridiculously beautiful. Honestly, I’m not even sure how I narrowed this down to five National Park hikes, and I’m definitely going to get yelled at. But these are truly amazing treks. These individual hikes embody the rigor, beauty, and serenity of what makes our National Parks so great. Most of these are difficult, but to really understand nature, you’ve gotta go down or up a long ways.
There are surely others that I could have included or multi-day hikes, but I wanted to keep this to the ones I’ve personally accomplished, as well as single day adventures! Take it away, guys!
Must-Do National Park Hikes
Camp Muir/Mt. Rainier Basecamp – Mt. Rainier National Park
Sitting nearly 5,000 feet above the Paradise Vistor Center and 4,000 feet below the Rainier summit, the 8-mile hike to Camp Muir is a challege, but entirely worth it. It’s one of the best hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park as it’s going to be the least crowded and get you to the highest point without summiting. Be warned though, it is a slog of a hike as you’re walking on snow for 3/4’s of it. Microspikes or snow shoes would be beneficial as well as something to glissade down when you’re done. Bring a beer to celebrate once you’re done!
Length: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,600
Half Dome – Yosemite National Park
One of the quinessential National Park hikes, getting to the top of Half Dome is as much a mental feat as a phsyical one – though it definitely is a phsyical one. Sitting perched at the top of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome is one of the most recognizeable formations in the United States. Overall, it’s 16+ miles roundtrip with over 4,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s also not for the faint of heart. The cables, occupying the last quarter-mile, will have questioning ‘why oh why’ you did this. Luckily, the views at the top are worth it – espcially at sunrise!
Length: 15 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,200
Rim to River – Grand Canyon National Park
The trek of all treks. If you’re feeling good, this is easily accomplishable in one day. But others who will want to spend time at the bottom can turn this into a 2-3 day trip with the right permits. While the Grand Canyon is great from the top, you don’t fully understand how vast and massive it is until you’re inside. This is the joy of going down to the bottom! Overall, it’s about 18 miles – seven down South Kaibab, a little bit on the canyon floor, and then up Bright Angel for 10-ish miles. It takes about 7-9 hours if you’re moving at a steady pace!
Length: 17 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,800
Angels Landing – Zion National Park
An icon in the photo world, Angels Landing juts out into the Zion Canyon and quite literally looks like a landing zone for angels. While it’s much shorter than the rest of these at only ~5 miles round trip, Angles Landing is easily one of the best Zion National Park hikes. I’d say it rivals Half Dome on the danger scale as there is some risk, but if you take it slow and understand your body, you’ll be fine. The hike is nearly all uphill including the hiliariously named “Walter’s Wiggles” but the spine of Angels is where your breath will be taken away.
Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,600
Grinnell Glacier – Glacier National Park
The Crown Jewel of the Continent, Grinnell Glacier is one of my favorite Glacier National Park hikes I’ve ever done – and I didn’t even techinically reach the end. You pass three lakes as you make your way to Grinell Glacier and the stunning views in front of you. (I hiked it a bit too early and the trail was snowed in but we still got some epic views.) Of the Glacier National Park hikes, this one will amaze you and put you in a constant state of awe.
Length: 11 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,100
When it comes to National Park hikes, you can probably throw a dart and get a good one. With these five, you’ll be left with your mouth open for the entire time and will be longing for more. Hopefully these inspire you and your travels in the years ahead!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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