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10 Backpacking Adventures You Need To Try For Yourself

​Backpacking is an incredible way to explore all of the unique natural wonders the United States has to offer. With so much to see, like massive oceans, gorgeous mountain ranges, canyons, waterfalls, lakes, forests, and so much more, it can get overwhelming trying to plan where to go next.

If you’re hoping to plan your perfect backpacking trip but don’t know where to start, don’t worry! Lucky for you, below we’ve outlined the ten best backpacking adventures throughout the United States to help break things down and guide you toward your dream outdoor vacation.

backpacking adventures

Western U.S. Backpacking Trips

1. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful places to have your next backpacking adventure. Found in Utah, this site is a world-renowned destination known for offering peace, solitude, and plenty of exciting journeys and discoveries.

Zion National Park is also known for its expansive canyons that are 2,000 feet deep, on average. It has vibrant orange and red rock formations and arches perfect for hiking. Also, for anyone into bird watching, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s home to the largest flying bird in North America, the California Condor.

Backpacking in Zion National Park does require a permit, and there are safety regulations to help every outdoor enthusiast feel safe and secure during their time here.

2. Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail begins in Southern California at the border of Mexico and travels through Oregon and Washington until it ends at the Canadian border. Because of its long distance, you can customize this backpacking adventure to take you as long (or as short) as you want while also exploring your preferred terrain.

Some notable features of this backpacking adventure are mountains that are weaved with zones of fractures, or faults, that have been recently active, in geologic time.

You’ll also find plenty of lizards, rodents, coyotes, snakes, cougars, and hummingbirds. While these animals are an exciting sight to see, they also remind you to keep your eyes peeled for safety reasons throughout your trip.

During the summer, the temperatures can reach into the low 100s, so make sure to pack plenty of sun protection and stay well hydrated. Whether you were hoping to explore some or all of California, Oregon, or Washington, the Pacific Crest Trail allows you to do it all.

3. Grand Canyon National Park

Bright Angel Trail Grand Canyon

Probably one of the better-known spots in the western U.S., the Grand Canyon is an amazing place to admire massive rock formations and canyons and experience top-notch hikes. But did you know that the Grand Canyon is also perfect for a backpacking adventure?

There are many different ways to tackle backpacking through the Grand Canyon.

If you’re looking for the archetypal Grand Canyon hike, you can travel a combined North and South Kaibab trail to cross the span of the canyon from rim to rim. This allows you to see everything the canyon has to offer and make once-in-a-lifetime memories.

If you’re looking for something shorter, there are many other hikes throughout this national park that incorporate rigor and exercise while getting to see sporadic desert streams, rivers, and some of the best backcountry campsites in the states.

4. Wonderland Trail

The Wonderland Trail is a relatively shorter backpacking adventure. It encircles Mount Rainier and covers about 93 miles. Although this may seem short compared to some of the other backpacking trips listed here, the hikes have lots of elevation changes and are pretty strenuous.

It’s essential to know your skill level when it comes to planning a backpacking trip, and the Wonderland Trail is no exception.

However, if you do feel comfortable enough to embark on this challenge, you’ll be met with breathtaking mountain ranges, wildflower meadows, glacial lakes, and of course, a close-up view of Mount Rainier.

Eastern U.S. Backpacking Trips

Sunset view from Annapolis Rocks, along the Appalachian Trail on South Mountain, Maryland

5. Appalachian Trail

It’s likely that you’ve heard about the Appalachian Trail, and have maybe even considered tackling this feat for your next backpacking adventure. If you’ve been eager to take the leap or are still unsure about it, this is your sign to take the leap.

The trail is over 2,200 miles long and takes you through the wooded and scenic areas of the Appalachian Mountains. It was created, starting in 1921, by private citizens, and continues to be managed today by the National Park Service and many other state and federal agencies.

Backpacking the entire Appalachian Trail, on average, takes around five to seven months to complete. It’s a rewarding and eye-opening experience that thousands of people take on each year.

When it comes to your own backpacking adventure, you can choose to attempt the entirety of the trail or simply take on a portion of it.

6. White Mountains

The White Mountains, of White Mountain National Forest, are located a few hours outside of Boston and span around 1,250 square miles. It has over 500 trails, some of which are the oldest hiking trails in the United States, and is ideal for any backpacking adventure.

If you’re hoping to have a break from camping while backpacking, there are maintained cabins open to the public so you can rest and relax before returning to your hike.

The White Mountain trails are easy to follow and feature an abundance of (of course) mountains, rivers and streams, wildlife, and more.

You may encounter bears and harsh weather conditions while on your backpacking adventure, so prepare accordingly. Make sure you read up on safety before you head to the White Mountains so your trip can go as smoothly as possible!

Backpacking adventures in the Midwest

Awesome autumn sunset from the Lake of the Clouds overlook -  Michigan Porcupine mountains wilderness state park - Upper Peninsula

7. Porcupine Mountains

If you’re spending time in the Midwest and looking for your next mountainous backpacking adventure, take a look at the Porcupine Mountains of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

This state park spans 60,000 acres of old-growth forest, massive waterfalls, endless rivers and streams, hiking trails, and campgrounds. It also contains the Lake Superior shoreline. In addition, being the largest state park in Michigan only adds to the appeal of this backcountry spot.

Backpacking in the Porcupine Mountains costs $20 per night. You’ll receive a permit upon entrance to the park, which enables you to camp overnight in your preferred location within the mountains. You’ll also receive information on trail conditions, bear sightings, and environmentally friendly camping tips.

While on your backpacking adventure in these Michigan Mountains, not only will you be met with unbeatable views, but you’ll also have access to trailside cabins, hunting and fishing opportunities, and campsite amenities.

8. Superior Hiking Trail

The Superior Hiking Trail is one of the more iconic backpacking destinations in the Midwest. It’s a rugged footpath and requires the appropriate gear and planning, so it’s important to make sure you’re properly set up before embarking on this beautiful backpacking adventure.

Superior Hiking Trail is known for having over 300 miles of vistas found along a Lake Superior overlook. It starts just south of Duluth, Minnesota, and reaches just below the Canadian border.

The best time to backpack through the Superior Hiking Trail is the summer (June-August), as it has the most favorable weather.

If you’re looking for less foot traffic and bugs, September through mid-November is also a great time to plan your trip, as the insects are now gone and the colors of fall are spread throughout the trees.

With frequent overlooks of Lake Superior, gorgeous waterfalls, and views of the Sawtooth Mountains, Superior Hiking Trail makes a perfect destination for your Midwest backpacking adventure.

Southern Backpacking Trips

Stunning sunset in Big Bend National Park featuring bright orange Ocotillo blooms in the foreground

9. Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is another great choice for anyone eager to plan their next backpacking adventure. This Texas-based national park is home to the mountainous woodlands of the Chiscos Mountains, which is the most popular area for backpacking in this park.

Big Bend National Park is often referred to as Texas’ Gift to the Nation. It’s a desirable destination for backpackers, hikers, and outdoor/nature lovers alike. Not only is it famous for its abundance of natural resources and recreational activities, but it also has a rich cultural history.

For thousands of years, native people have lived and passed through Big Bend, as evidenced by archaeological sites and pictographs. If you’re looking to learn about the people who came before us during your Southern backpacking adventure, Big Bend National Park is the perfect place for you.

10. Myakka Hiking Trail

Myakka Hiking Trail is a 39-mile backpacking loop found in the center of Myakka River State Park, in Florida. This state park makes for a different backpacking adventure than many of the others on this list because of the unique terrain.

Because it’s in Florida, this backpacking trip has very little elevation changes, meaning most of your hikes will be pretty flat. Despite the ease of the hikes, there is an abundance of local birds, trees, flowers, and tropical wildlife to keep you on your toes.

Depending on the season, rainfall can make certain areas pretty muddy, so make sure to plan accordingly. Florida is also pretty hot, year-round, so pack lots of water, sunscreen, and other sun protection you may need along the way.

Pack Your Bags!

No matter how you like to spend time outdoors, backpacking holds something for everyone. Whether you’re out West in Northern California or down south in Florida, every region of the U.S. is unique in its own way and has so much to explore.Want more information on how to plan your next backpacking adventure? Check out our backpacking guide and gear checklist for all you need to know!