Whether you’re hiking alone, on a family vacation, or with a group of enthusiasts; with thousands of different hiking trails, it can be near impossible to decide where the best location to hike is. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of various destinations in the Western United States catered to some of the best options hikers are looking for. While these are definitely not the only options for each category, this list of the 5 best western United States hiking destinations featuring a great hiking opportunity, awe-inspiring views, and the chance for memories that will last a lifetime. Now all you need to do is decide what type of trails you’re looking for.
Difficult Peak -Long’s Peak, Colorado
The most difficult trail on our list (distance aside) is Long’s Peak in Colorado. Located above the Rocky Mountain National Park, Long’s Peak is one of only 54 peaks located in a national park that is above 14,000 feet. It is a sheer test of will to take on this hike but is definitely one of the more astonishing hiking destinations when you reach the top. During the summer, it is possible to reach Long’s Peak without climbing equipment through the Keyhole Route. Although better to attempt with a partner than hiking alone, this climb will take hikers over precarious ledges, bus-sized boulders, and more.
Iconic Peak – Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
The Half Dome at Yosemite National Park provides one of the most picturesque peaks in the world. Ascending over 8,000 feet above Yosemite Valley, the Half Dome provides amazing panoramic views of the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. However, due to its overwhelming popularity, the park has instituted a lottery based system for hikers wishing to visit the top of this granite beast. Therefore, it is best if you are hiking alone on this trail rather than in a large group, as only 225 – 275 hikers are chosen each day and given the go-ahead to attempt this summit.
Local Favorite – Dry Creek Trail #52, Sedona, AZ
Located in a town packed with first-class hiking trails, this local favorite winds its way through the Coconino National Forest. The 5-mile trek offers a variety of impressive views featuring a nice forest, grazing deer, red rock formations, and plenty of quiet tranquility moments. Dry Creek Trail #52 is considered a moderate hike, and is located near the Vultee Arch trail and follows the path cut by Dry Creek.
Long Distance – Great Western Trail
Part of the National Millennium Trails (a list of 16 different hiking trails selected by a committee reflecting defining aspects of our country’s culture and history) created by the White House, this long distance trek will have you hiking through five different states – Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. During this whopping 4,455 mile hike, you will experience everything from alpine lakes, to deserts, to exquisite backdrops.
Natural Wonder – Rim to Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
If you’re looking for one of the more breathtaking hiking destinations, you don’t want to miss the Rim to Rim trail at the Grand Canyon National Park. Featuring one of the many natural wonders of the world, there are very few visually-striking hiking trails that feature areas as famed as the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon. Although there are many trails available to hike within the park, the 7.8 mile Rim to Rim definitely tops the cake. This incredible trail passes some of the most interesting locations within the park such as Ribbon Falls, Bright Angel Canyon, the South Rim, and much more. However, due to the constant risk of afternoon thunderstorms, it is recommended to start as early as 3 a.m.