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Best Hiking Vacations

By Kellie Hillis

Hiking is one of my favorite things in the world to do. Walking around in new, unfamiliar natural places is the absolute best. Seeing new plants, breathing different air, and experiencing new climates is just plain fun.

I try to go hiking basically every chance I get, and with the weather turning a little cooler, it’s the perfect time to explore some new spots.

If you’re new to hiking and don’t really know where to start, I’m going to give you three amazing hiking adventure vacations. These places can accommodate all experience levels -- from first time walkers to seasoned pros.


Vacation #1: Appalachian Adventure

The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the entire world. Their lush green flora, bubbling creeks, and famous foggy tops are worth the visit. For this trip, we’ll start in the Great Smoky Mountains. This national park is free to enter, and it has some amazing hikes! The Mt. Leconte via Alum Cave hike is my favorite, but it’s a bit more challenging than some might be ready to conquer. Once you’ve explored the Smokies, head south into North Georgia and check out Helen, a German-inspired village with great food. Afterwards, head to Blood Mountain and hike up the tallest mountain in Georgia and get some experience hiking the Appalachian Trail trailhead. Bonus points if you make this trip in the fall to see the changing leaves!

Vacation #2: Southwest Sightseeing

If you’re looking for the best bang for your hiking buck, this is the trip for you. We’re going to make a giant loop in the Southwest and see some of the most amazing landscapes the USA has to offer. First, we’ll fly into Las Vegas and head about 30 minutes west of downtown. A place called Red Rock Canyon will be our first stop. I recommend hiking Turtle Head Peak if you’re a seasoned hiker. Calico Tanks is another amazing jaunt over the eponymous sandstone. Next, we’re going to head northeast from the city to Southern Utah. First, we’ll check out Zion National Park. Next, we’ll keep heading east to Bryce Canyon. Then we’ll loop around and see the Grand Canyon. After you’ve walked around each of these parks to your heart’s content, you can finish the last bit of the loop west and fly back out of Vegas, checking out Hoover Dam on the drive back in.

Vacation #3: Yosemite Yearning

Some places are so vast and amazing that most people won’t ever see everything those places have to offer. Yosemite is one of those places. The towering granite cliffs are a sight to behold, and the massive waterfalls are unbelievable. John Muir spent many years of his life ambling around this indescribable cathedral. If you’re looking for hikes to start with, try the Mariposa Grove hike to see some giant sequoias. Seasoned hikers have basically infinite opportunities to put some miles in your boots and really see how wild Yosemite can be. The hike from the valley floor to Cloud’s Rest will take you all day, and you’ll gain thousands of feet in elevation. You can also hike the other direction by starting at Lake Tuolumne and heading down and along some of the best views a person can ever see. Yosemite is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

There you have it: three pre-planned hiking vacations for you to traverse nature to your heart’s content. Each of these trips holds a special place in my heart, and I don’t think I can pick a favorite one! From the lush greens in the Southeast, the vibrant reds in the Southwest, and the towering gray cliffs in Yosemite, each of these excursions will leave you breathless in the best ways possible. Pro-tip: make sure your hiking boots fit before you go! The last thing you want is to get a bunch of blisters on your feet because you didn’t size your boots properly!

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