Jake Cain is an entrepreneur and writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He spends his free time driving around the country in his late 90’s conversion van, affectionately known as the “Monster Van” with his wife and 3 boys.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, hiking aficionado, or simply seeking to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life, then backpacking in national parks is a bucket-list experience you won’t want to miss. The vast and diverse landscapes of national parks in the United States offer a treasure trove of backpacking opportunities that are sure to leave you awestruck.
From the towering peaks of Glacier National Park to the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone, the pristine wilderness of Denali, or the majestic canyons of Grand Canyon National Park, there’s a national park for every backpacker’s dream adventure.
We’ll take a virtual tour of some of the best national parks for backpacking, showcasing the extraordinary beauty, charming features, and unparalleled experiences that make these parks a backpacker’s paradise.
Get ready to lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and embark on an unforgettable journey into the heart of America’s wilderness!
Mount Rainier National Park
If you’re looking for an unforgettable backpacking experience, Mount Rainier National Park should definitely be on your list! This gem of a national park in Washington State offers some of the most eye-catching scenery and diverse landscapes for backpackers to explore.
The park is home to the iconic Mount Rainier, a towering stratovolcano that serves as a dramatic backdrop for your backpacking adventure.
With over 260 miles of maintained trails, you’ll find options for all skill levels, from novice to expert backpackers. The trails take you through old-growth forests, subalpine meadows adorned with wildflowers, picturesque valleys, and jaw-dropping glaciers.
The park also offers numerous backcountry campsites, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and truly disconnect from the stresses and strains of normal life.
The unparalleled beauty of the park, combined with the sense of solitude and serenity found in the backcountry, make Mount Rainier National Park a backpacker’s paradise that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Yosemite National Park
If you’re a backpacking enthusiast, then Yosemite National Park should certainly be on your bucket list! This famous national park located in California is a backpacker’s dream come true. With its soaring granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, unblemished alpine meadows, and ancient sequoia groves, Yosemite offers unmatched natural beauty that will leave you in awe at every turn.
The park boasts over 750 miles of trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging multi-day backpacking adventures, catering to all skill levels. Highlights include the legendary Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, and the High Sierra backcountry.
Yosemite also offers a well-developed system of wilderness permits, allowing backpackers to explore remote and pristine areas of the park while minimizing environmental impact. The opportunity to camp under the stars in Yosemite’s backcountry, surrounded by spotless wilderness and the sounds of nature, is an experience that will leave you with cherished memories for a lifetime.
Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or new to outdoor adventures, Yosemite National Park is a must-visit destination that promises a mesmerizing backpacking experience amidst some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world.
Isle Royale National Park
Are you looking for a truly unique and remote backpacking experience? Look no further than Isle Royale National Park!
Located in Lake Superior, Isle Royale is a captivating wilderness that offers a thrilling backpacking adventure. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, this isolated national park boasts over 165 miles of rugged trails, making it a backpacker’s paradise. The park is known for its stunning landscapes, including dense forests, rocky ridges, and attractive lakeshores.
Isle Royale is also home to a healthy population of moose and wolves, providing backpackers with the rare opportunity to spot these characterful creatures in their natural habitat.
The park’s wilderness camping permits allow backpackers to truly disconnect from modern life and immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature. The absence of crowds and the remote nature of the park offer a one-of-a-kind sense of solitude and serenity, making it a perfect destination for those seeking a true wilderness adventure.
If you’re looking to challenge yourself with invigorating trails, experience spectacular scenery, and disconnect from the pressures of modern life, Isle Royale National Park is a backpacking destination that should not be missed.
Olympic National Park
When it comes to diverse landscapes and abundant wilderness, Olympic National Park is a backpacker’s Garden of Eden! Located in Washington State, this gem of a national park offers amazing opportunities for backpacking adventures.
With over 600 miles of trails traversing through incredible scenery, including lush rainforests, rugged mountains, and pristine coastline, Olympic National Park has something for everyone. Hiking through the Hoh Rainforest, with its towering moss-covered trees and vibrant ferns, is a truly magical experience.
The park also boasts picture-perfect lakes, dramatic waterfalls, and remote alpine meadows that are sure to leave you astonished.
Olympic National Park is home to a dizzying range of wildlife, including Roosevelt elk, black bears, and mountain goats, offering backpackers the chance to encounter these majestic creatures up close. Additionally, the park’s wilderness camping permits allow for unforgettable overnight backpacking trips, where you can pitch your tent amidst the tranquility of nature.
The park’s diverse ecosystems, combined with its scenic trails and unique camping opportunities, make Olympic National Park a backpacker’s dream come true. No matter how many backpacking trips you’ve enjoyed in the past, Olympic National Park is sure to captivate you with its sweeping landscapes and wilderness experiences.
Denali National Park
If you’re seeking a true wilderness adventure, Denali National Park in Alaska is an unbeatable backpacking destination!
This vast and untamed national park is home to towering mountains, rugged tundra, and flourishing wildlife, offering backpackers a richly rewarding experience. With over six million acres of wilderness to explore, Denali National Park is a backpacker’s dream come true.
The park is known for its instantly recognizable centerpiece, Denali, North America’s tallest peak, which serves as a beautiful backdrop for your backpacking expedition. The park offers a variety of trails, ranging from well-maintained paths to remote backcountry routes, catering to all skill levels.
Backpackers can spot grizzly bears, caribou, Dall sheep, and other wildlife in their natural habitats, making for unforgettable wildlife encounters. Denali National Park also offers designated wilderness campsites, allowing backpackers to immerse themselves in the pristine beauty of the park and enjoy outstanding views of the surrounding wilderness.
If you’re up for a stimulating and remote adventure, Denali National Park is a must-visit spot for backpackers looking to experience the untamed beauty of Alaska’s wilderness.
Grand Canyon National Park
If you’re looking for a backpacking adventure that will take your breath away, look no further than Grand Canyon National Park! This iconic park in Arizona offers an unrivaled experience of hiking and camping in one of the world’s most amazing natural wonders.
The vast and glorious Grand Canyon, with its hypnotic layers of colorful rock formations and steep cliffs, creates an awe-inspiring backdrop for your backpacking journey. The park offers a variety of trails, ranging from easy to challenging, catering to all levels of backpacking experience.
Backpackers can choose from rim-to-rim hikes or venture down into the canyon for a multi-day backpacking trip, allowing for an immersive exploration of the park’s unique geology and ecosystems. The impressive vistas, changing light and shadows, and the sheer magnitude of the canyon will leave you astounded at every turn.
The park also offers designated backcountry campsites, providing backpackers with a chance to experience the solitude and tranquility of the canyon at night, under a canopy of stars.
The challenging terrain, breathtaking scenery, and distinctive camping opportunities make Grand Canyon National Park an unforgettable destination for backpackers seeking a truly extraordinary adventure.
Shenandoah National Park
If you’re looking for a backpacking getaway close to the bustling East Coast, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is a hidden gem that offers a serene wilderness experience.
This extraordinary park is known for its scenic beauty, including panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and lush, dense forests. With over 500 miles of trails winding through the park, Shenandoah offers a variety of backpacking options for all skill levels.
From leisurely day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The park’s well-maintained trails lead you up to awe-inspiring overlooks, cascading waterfalls, and peaceful meadows, creating a picture-perfect backdrop for your backpacking adventure.
Shenandoah National Park also offers a unique opportunity to experience the famous Appalachian Trail, which stretches over 100 miles through the park. The park’s designated backcountry camping areas provide backpackers with the chance to spend the night in the wilderness, listening to the sounds of nature and gazing at the stars.
Wildlife enthusiasts will also enjoy spotting deer, black bears, and a variety of bird species along the trails.
With its accessibility, scenic beauty, and diverse backpacking options, Shenandoah National Park is a perfect destination for an engrossing backpacking experience.
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is a backpacker’s paradise that offers captivating alpine landscapes, dramatic mountains, and spotless wilderness. With its jagged peaks, pristine lakes, and thriving wildlife, this park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable backpacking experience.
The park boasts a network of trails that cater to all levels of backpacking experience, from leisurely day hikes to challenging multi-day excursions. Backpackers can explore the iconic Teton Range, with its dramatic peaks and stunning vistas, or venture into the remote backcountry to experience the peace and solitude of the wilderness.
Grand Teton also offers designated backcountry camping areas, allowing backpackers to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the park and sleep under the stars.
Wildlife encounters are common in this beautiful park, with opportunities to spot moose, elk, bison, bears, and other animals in their natural habitats. The park also offers guided backpacking trips and ranger-led programs, providing educational and interpretive experiences for backpackers.
The amazing combination of majestic mountains, dazzling lakes, and abundant wildlife make Grand Teton National Park a must-visit destination for backpackers seeking an extraordinary adventure in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is a backpacker’s dream come true. With its vast wilderness, geothermal wonders, and diverse ecosystems, Yellowstone offers a truly one-of-a-kind and captivating backpacking experience.
The park boasts over 1,000 miles of trails, ranging from easy day hikes to challenging multi-day backpacking trips. Backpackers can explore the park’s iconic geothermal features, including geysers, hot springs, and mud pots, which create an absorbing landscape.
The park is also home to an abundance of wildlife, including bison, elk, wolves, bears, and more, providing exciting opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. Yellowstone’s backcountry camping options allow backpackers to immerse themselves in the wilderness and experience the park’s beauty and solitude at night.
Additionally, Yellowstone offers stunning geological features such as canyons, waterfalls, and rivers, adding to the diversity of backpacking experiences.
With its spectacular natural wonders, fascinating geology, rich wildlife, and diverse backpacking options, Yellowstone National Park is a bucket-list destination for any backpacker.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park in Montana is a backpacker’s paradise that offers incredible alpine landscapes, pristine lakes, and awe-inspiring glaciers. With its rugged peaks, dense forests, and abundant wildlife, Glacier National Park provides an unforgettable backpacking experience.
The park features over 700 miles of trails, ranging from leisurely day hikes to challenging multi-day treks, catering to all levels of backpacking experience. Backpackers can explore the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which traverses the park and offers vibrant vistas of the rugged terrain.
Glacier National Park is also home to over 130 lakes, offering opportunities for camping and fishing along the shores. The park’s designated backcountry camping areas allow backpackers to truly immerse themselves in the wilderness and experience the serenity and stillness that can be found in the park.
Wildlife encounters are common in Glacier, with opportunities to spot grizzly bears, moose, bighorn sheep, and other animals in their natural habitats. The park also offers ranger-led programs, providing educational and interpretive experiences for backpackers.
With its dramatic landscapes, dazzling lakes, amazing wildlife, and exciting backpacking options, be sure to make Glacier National Park part of your backpacking travel plans.
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