Some days you just want to get out in to the outdoors. Walk out that front door, get yourself to the trailhead and pound the ground one foot at a time. Hiking is the perfect passive workout to keeing yourself fit. It improves cardiovascular function, controls weight and bring fresh air to the lungs. Not quite on par with adventure travel, but it gets the job done.
Whether you hike takes you around the neighborhood or if venture out in to the great outdoors there is always a place to get away.
Are you a National Parker looking to knock off another of the United States' 58 great National Parks? Here some quick hits my most recent trips. Yellowstone, Glacier and Zion.
February is a good time to visit Yellowstone because the bitter cold deters most humans, giving you the sense that you have the park mostly to yourself. On a previous visit in the summer, my predominant memory was that of watching the back of an RV while we were caught in a snarl of excessive traffic.
Trips in the winter however, brought me closer to wildlife and allowed me to enjoy broad vistas without the commotion of thousands of people. Day One was a guided snowmobile tour that lasted more than five hours (burr). Many of the park roads were closed due to heavy snow but on a sled, we could go pretty much anywhere we wanted. Day Two was spent in Lamar Valley where I saw wolves, coyote, otters, buffalo and bald eagles.
Glacier is fairly difficult to visit. There are only so many rooms available within the park, and the season is only 4 or 5 months long. This means you have to plan at least a year in advance, but it is worth all of your preparation. My most receint trip in September 2018 was in jeopardy as a fire closed much of the park for most of the summer. The weather did not cooperate entirely as rain, snow and extended cloud cover hampered some of my plans, but I was fortunate to experience these sights first hand and I look forward to returning.
If you are the backcountry camping sort, there are over 60 designated campgrounds throughout the park. However, if you do want to camp, a backcountry user permit is required. They are $7/night and available at several locations depending upon the time of year. Good news for last minute campers, over half of the loacations are set aside for walk-in campers.
While this is a spectacular place, expect on lots of driving as the Go to The Sun Road winds through the park for over 50 miles with several treacherous drop-offs and panoramic turn-outs.
Apgar is a town at the south end of Lake McDonald and the Inn at Apgar is a simple motel right on the lake, a spectacular place where your porch looks across the lake onto the mountains in the horizon. A great place for a cup of coffee.
Many Glacier Lodge is fairly remote but it offers one of the most unique destinations I have witnessed. The lodge resembles a Swiss Chalet and it brings you up close and personal with spectacular mountains. Put this one on your list sooner rather than later as the season is short and the glaciers are receding.
While Zion is often overcrowded during the summer months, it does have a wide range of hiking opportunities from short family-friendly strolls to longer strenuous day hikes in diverse terrain from arid desert sections to breathtakingly majestic viewpoints to lush forests and claustrophobic slot canyons. And while Zion is fairly small compared to other national parks, there are several options for 2 to 3-day backpacking trips. All hikes showcase the beautiful slickrock sandstone formations of the region.