By Browning Hemric
This great country of ours is vast and has tons of beautiful and wild places to visit. People love to talk about secret swimming holes and that mysterious and perfect campsite everyone knows about but won’t fess up to the actual location. We are so lucky to have such a wide range of unique environments to explore here in the US. From deserts to marshes, and mountains to secrets lakes, there’s something any outdoorsman or woman can enjoy. We’ve come up with a list of some of the top 10 wilderness spots to check out for your next adventure!
Linville Gorge, North Carolina
Well, we just had to start the list with one of our personal favorites! A shining gem here in North Carolina, the Linville Gorge Wilderness stretches over 11,651 acres. With it’s headwaters starting around Grandfather Mountain, the Linville River carves a breathtaking gorge which also features Linville Falls. This area has been popular with locals and visitors for generations. Linville Gorge also offers prime rock climbing with abundant interesting rock features, backpacking and hiking trails galore.
Joshua Tree, California
Named for the unique Joshua Trees in this desert region, this wilderness area is a must see for climbers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of any variety. The Mojave and Colorado desert ecosystems collide here and offer tons of interesting features unique to the area as well as incredible rock formations. The temperatures are most comfortable during the spring and fall, so plan ahead. Joshua Tree is also a perfect spot for stargazers to enjoy the night sky so don’t forget your telescope!
Zion Wilderness, Utah
Zion Park alone offers a dozen beautiful desert waterfalls to check out, along with rock formations and secret swimming holes to discover. This wilderness area is a mecca for hikers with endless trails and natural staircases to climb to test any skill level. The heat can be brutal here in summer, so trips during the fall season are ideal. Zion translates to “heavenly city” and with such beautiful views and vistas to offer, it’s easy to see how this area got it’s name.
If you’re not a fan of dry deserts and prefer a more watery locale. the Florida Everglades are the perfect spot to explore. This ecosystem provides habitat for many rare and endangered species who feel just like you do about the water. Home to the American Crocodile and the Manatee, the Everglades are a natural region of tropical wetlands that include mangrove forests and cypress swamps. Some of these beautiful swamps can be dense and tough to get to, but with the K-Pak in tow you can actually carry your boat right on your back anywhere you want to check out. Just keep an eye out for snakes - and those crocs!
Teton Wilderness, Wyoming
The Teton Wilderness lies between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, also two amazing places to visit. This rugged landscape has it all; mountain views, the winding Snake River, and all kinds of wildlife who make the Tetons their home. Grizzly bears, wolves and moose frequent this wilderness, so be advised if you plan to make a visit! Fall is the best time of year to check out the Tetons as winters can be quite snowy.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Just one picture of Glacier National Park will have you booking plane tickets online. This pristine wilderness pulls at the heartstrings and imaginations of all outdoor lovers and wanderlusters alike. With mountains, beautiful lakes, glaciers, and miles and miles of trails to explore, Glacier National Park has so many options and sites to see. Exploring Glacier’s waterways is one of the best and somewhat unknown methods of seeing this grand national park up close and personal. Just throw your boat on your back and head off to adventure!
Denali National Park, Alaska
With over 6 million acres to explore in Denali, you won’t get bored quickly. All walks of life enjoy this national park from dog sledders to rafters, cross country skiers and hikers. Denali is truly one of the last wild landscapes we have the privilege of enjoying in our great country. Glaciers and vast mountain peaks dot the landscape here, but remember Alaska is known for harsh winters, so plan your visit to Denali accordingly!
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia is the only national park in the state of Maine, and was the first with an endowed trail system. Wilderness landscapes and rock formations meet the ocean with perfect trails and backpacking spots along the way. Acadia offers close to 50,000 acres with woodlands, lakes and shorelines to explore by boat - which we know is always the best means of travel! There’s also lots of native wildlife to keep an eye out for here including beavers, porcupines, moose, muskrats and foxes.
Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho
The “River of No Return” is referring to the Salmon River in this wilderness region of Central Idaho. This area has over 2.3 million acres to enjoy and is a favorite among whitewater rafters and kayakers. There are mountain ranges and canyons, and motorized machinery is prohibited here so travel can be a little more rugged - just how we like it! The Salmon River Canyon is one of the deepest gorges in North America, and offers a variety of landscapes to explore.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
The Boundary Waters (BWCAW) offers over 1 million acres of gorgeous waterways and forests to get lost in that borders our Canadian neighbors. Obviously, this area is very popular for canoeing and paddling of any variety, and a favorite spot for any avid fisherman. Nearly 20% of the BWCAW is water, with over 1,100 lakes and mile after mile of wandering rivers and streams. This is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the US with over 2,000 campsites, but also with enough breathing room for just you, your K-Pak, and your thoughts. Just don't forget the bug spray!
Any of these top spots are a perfect destination choice for your next adventure! Whether you like deserts or meandering waterways, rocky mountains or to get up close and personal with a moose the options are endless. Get your favorite crew together and start planning that trip of a lifetime that you’ll have photos on the mantle from!