While you’ve probably been around the country and have seen a few of the world’s coolest places, have you ever done so on your own two feet? Slowing down and taking travel adventures one step at a time can have some big rewards.
Backpacking is quickly becoming an attractive way to experience a new place, and especially here in the United States as we emerge from Covid lockdowns. While backpacking is popular across Europe, it is just gaining in popularity in North America as travelers look to stay a bit closer to home and to enjoy outdoor activities.
While backpacking isn’t an activity that is normally associated with traveling around a major city, you may be surprised how accessible and cost-effective a backpacking getaway can be. After exploring a major city, you can take your adventure into the backcountry where you’ll really experience the area in a natural environment.
Just imagine waking up before the sun rises and climbing to a mountain top to see the beautiful rise as it awakes the world… it’s definitely an inspiring sight to see. Backpacking is a great way to experience travel in a slower style that has been left modern convenience and motorized transportation behind. But the payoff in scenery and self-reflection is well worth it. So, get your packing list ready, here, we’ll explore a few regions of the United States where you can go backpacking and expand your world experiences.
The city that never sleeps got its name from the hustle and bustle of its 8.5 million inhabitants, all scurrying around trying to make ends meet in one of the most expensive and culturally diverse cities on the planet. And, while most people are familiar with New York City, far fewer are familiar with the wonders of New York state, a.k.a Upstate New York.
New York has some of the most beautiful landscapes and natural areas that largely go overshadowed by the Big Apple. In fact, backpacking in the state of New York is a wonderful experience and one that many travelers never consider, but should!
New York is home to both the Catskill Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains. After you’ve explored Manhattan on foot or by using a rideshare service, you can take a train to one of these upstate locations and do some real backpacking and exploring. In fact, the Adirondack region is home to 46 peaks that rise to over 4,000 feet, hundreds of waterfalls and delightful villages. It may shock you to learn that Adirondack Park is larger than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined. With all this territory to explore you will find scenic hiking trails for all abilities and even some charming wineries to relax at along the way.
The Catskills have a gentler topography and are known for their historic grand resort hotels, family-friendly attractions, and soothing scenery. This area is just a short train ride away from New York City, making it an ideal area for weekend backpacking adventures.
If you’re up for a great outdoor adventure, take a trip to the Natural State, otherwise known as the great state of Arkansas. As a part of the deep and mid-south (depending on who you talk to) Arkansas Is home to both delta landscapes and is part of the Ozark mountain chain. In the northern part of the state, you’ll find the most rugged and wild terrain that is both picturesque and tranquil.
Arkansas is home to hot springs, winding rivers, and large forests that all rise and fall with the gentle slopes of the Ozarks. Numerous backpacking trails and campgrounds dot the land in most areas of the north and the northeast, and also include several natural and manmade lakes.
If a wild outdoor adventure is what you’re after, consider backpacking around the Ozarks of Arkansas, and you might learn a little obscure history along the way.
Home to numerous celebrated national parks such as Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands, Utah is a wild western state rich in history and overflowing with dramatic scenery. The best way to experience this wonder is to get out in the backcountry and do some real exploring.
Utah was once home to ancient Pueblo people, and their eternal artwork and structures are forever etched into the red rock that cradles the land. Just by walking around a few wilderness areas you’re bound to see the many petroglyphs and otherworldly rock art that these people left behind to tell their story.
Camping and lodging opportunities are available at every turn in Utah, and it’s a mountain biker and backpacker’s paradise during most months of the year. But, you’ll want to plan ahead if you’ll be traveling in the spring, as Jeep Week brings in off-road enthusiasts from all over the country to areas near Moab. This year the Utah National Parks are attracting record numbers of visitors, so it’s important to plan well in advance and bring your patience as you may have to wait to hike the most popular trails.
Backpacking is a great way to see any city or state up close and on foot. You’ll learn a little self-reliance and probably create some of the most memorable experiences of your life. Always remember, with hiking trips, it’s never about the destination itself that you’re trying to reach… it’s all about the journey you take to get to the destination.
All the plants, wildlife, and scenery will make every mile of your hike worth it, and everything you see on the way to the destination may be even more memorable than the destination itself! But you’ll never know until you go for your very own hike. Take the time out to research destinations you’d enjoy hiking, and then get outdoors and take in all the beauty of nature.