The U.S. has no shortage of breathtaking vistas and natural wonders. From trekking through red-rock desert canyons to climbing staggering powder-dusted peaks to exploring once-active volcanoes, each state has something unique to offer outdoor adventurers. With an abundance of breathtaking locations to visit, it can be hard to pinpoint where to invest your time and energy. If you’re looking for your next adventure-packed vacation destination, consider these states that make our list of the top 10 best states for hiking in North America.
California has one of the diverse landscapes of any state in the country. Travel within a few hours of southern California, and you can enter a vast desert landscape, travel to snow-covered peaks, and hike through dense forest. Additionally, California is home to some of the country’s most popular national parks, namely Yosemite National Park, but Sequoia & Kings and Death Valley also deserve a notable mention. With so many divergent landscapes to offer, miles of trails (including a long stretch of the infamous Pacific Crest Trail), enjoyable year-round weather, and one of the most sought after hiking permits out there (Half Dome), California tops our list as the best state to take a hike.
Montana’s name isn’t derived from the Spanish word montaña (mountain) for nothing. Not only is it one of the biggest states in size, but it is home to an abundance of beautiful mountain ranges, rich river valleys, and miles of badlands. It’s also home to two iconic national parks: Yellowstone and Glacier as well as the Little Bighorn National Monument. Whether you are looking to tackle the Rocky mountains or backpack through one of the country’s most enthralling backpacking destinations (Glacier National Park), the state of a Montana is a must-visit.
Hawaii is much more than miles of tropical, white-sand beaches and infinity pools. It is also home to some of the most unique biodiversity in the entire country. This includes and is not limited to the volcanoes found in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, hikers have the unique opportunity to walk on the Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcano. Some even get lucky enough to see the Kilauea volcano spurting lava, though this is a rare sight usually only seen by locals and very lucky tourists. Aside from hiking volcanoes, hikers can also hike the highly sought after “Jurassic Park Waterfall”, as featured in both “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World”, the tallest accessible waterfall on Oahu.
The Cowboy State truly is the wild west of hiking opportunities. It features seven national forests, multiple state parks, two national parks, and 18 million miles of public land waiting to be discovered. The state also boasts hundreds of hiking trails past rushing rivers, and through open meadows and lush green forests. Hikers also have the opportunity to check out Old Faithful, the first geyser in Yellowstone National Park to receive a name. Advanced hikers and rock climbers can push the limits by ascending Cloud Peak in the Bighorn National Forest.
The southwest holds some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes and prime hiking opportunities. Arizona is no stranger to natural wonders, and features some of the most widely-shared photos you’ve likely encountered on social media and blogs. Some of these iconic destinations include the turquoise waterfalls found in Havasu Canyon, dramatic loop in the Colorado River found at Horseshoe Bend, and a natural sandstone bridge in Sedona. To make your trip to Arizona as enjoyable and memorable as possible, try booking during spring and fall months when temperatures are cooler.
There’s more to Maine than just delicious seafood. In addition to some of the best some of the best lobster you’ll find in this country, you’ll also find miles of beautiful coastline and wooded forests, beckoning you to walk through them. Maine is also home to Acadia National Park, one of the northeast’s most stunning national parks. It features an eclectic mix of mountains, ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes. It’s also the ending point for the longest hiking-only trail in the world, the Appalachian Trail, which ends at Mount Katahdin.
Colorado is well known for their adventure-seeking residents. With some of the most beautiful mountains in the country, it’s no surprise that hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the state. Thousands of miles of rugged trails, 58 peaks rising more than 14,000 feet above sea level, 12 national monuments, and 41 state parks make Colorado the ideal destination for anyone looking to get their outdoor fix. For those looking for an extended adventure, check out the Colorado Trail, a 500-mile trail along the Rocky Mountains between Denver and Durango.
Washington may be known for its rain, but with rain also comes an abundance of greenery. There is no shortage of breathtaking trails in the Evergreen State that deserve to be explored, some that run through thick rain forests. Others take you to some of the state’s most prominent mountains, including Mount Rainier and Mount Baker. For a national park experience unlike any others you’ve explored, check out Olympic National Park, an eclectic combination of snow-capped mountains, tide pools, and rain forests on the Olympic Peninsula. If you’re looking for a longer trek, the 93-mile Wonderland Trail is a must as it circles Mount Rainier, giving backpackers impressive views of the staggering peak from every angle.
Utah is home to an impressive number of outdoor adventures. It’s home to The Mighty 5®, Utah’s five national parks that draw millions of visitors each year from around the world to see their unforgettable beauty in person. Additionally, Utah is home to one of the most sought-after permit-only trails in the western United States, the Wave, intricately colored bands of sandstone that form the shape of a wave. Whether you’re looking to travel through the watery depths of the Narrows or stand beneath some of the most magnificent sandstone arches in the country, Utah is your go-to destination.
Popular cruise destination aside, there are a plethora of other reasons to visit Alaska. Namely, to escape reality and take a hike in its vast expanse of dense woodlands and lush rain forests. Alaska also features an impressive number of gigantic glaciers and rugged mountain peaks. Frigid winters display impressively beautiful snow-packed peaks while summers boast an enchanting green wonderland. Hikers will also find joy in visiting Alaska’s multiple national Parks, including Denali National Park which featuring North America’s tallest peak at 20,310 feet. To top off your other-worldly experience in Alaska, don’t forget to step into Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park to see glaciers bigger than the state of Rhode Island.
Are there any states you think should make this list of best states for hiking? Let us know in the comments below!