National Parks Week: The Best Backpacking Trips in the Parks

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National Parks Week celebrates and brings awareness to America’s crown jewels beginning on April 21, and what better way to celebrate than to plan an incredible backpacking trip? As spring slowly rolls around, April is a great time to go out and explore the lesser-trodden trails of our National Parks. Here are some fun backpacking trips you can plan for this spring:


Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

 

The Teton Range is an incredible site to see, let alone hike. That’s why the Teton Crest Trail is a must backpack trip for anyone that wants to get deep into the range. You get to view many of the famous mountain peaks linked together by alpine lakes. If you do the entire trail, you will be gaining 37 miles under your hiking boots. The whole trail is estimated to take about six days.


Outer Mountain Loop, Big Bend National Park, Texas

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Hiking 30 miles in three days is quite the trip, but worth it for the miles-long views you get in Bend Bend. The trail runs along the south rim of the Chisos Mountains in the Chihuahuan Desert. In the mountains, you will be able to find solace from the heat under various different trees, including maples. When planning this trip, just be sure to check the heat index so you can backpack safely and comfortably.


Tenaya Lake Trail to Clouds Rest, Yosemite National Park, California

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There are so many spectacular and well known trails in Yosemite, that it’s difficult to just pick one for backpacking, but the views from the Tenaya Lake Trail to Clouds Rest will leave you awestruck. This journey is 15.5 miles out-and-back with about 1,175 feet in elevation gain. The last part to get to the summit is a rock scramble that is well worth the views which include Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley.   


Rocky Mount Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

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This is the shortest backpacking trip on the list, but that does not make it any less amazing. The Rocky Mount Trail loop clocks in at about 9.8 miles, so this could be a day hike, or a mellow hike-in for an overnight stay. The trail has a reported 2,200 feet in elevation gain, with Rocky Mount topping out at 2,741. Though there are no official campsites near the summit, you can still camp there. If you’re looking for an actual campsite, continue hiking about a mile pass the summit where you will find well-marked campgrounds.

Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

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Glacier National Park is beautiful, vast, with many parts of the park feeling predominantly off the grid. Cracker Lake, with its crystal glacial blue hue, is no different. Though this hike is 12.2 miles, it’s a good backpacking trip for beginners, as it is also doable in a day, but the views of the lake will make you want to stay a few nights.


With any backpacking trip, always be sure to check if you need backcountry permits.

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