My favorite vacation destinations are usually ones where I can get some hiking in, eat good food, and meet friendly people. There are so many beautiful hikes and outdoor destinations, but some trips have been better than others because of the other factors you don't see in photos. Are the town locals friendly? Is the food tasty? Is it affordable? My favorite hiking trips of all time are not just about the hiking. They are about the experience!
1. A Road Trip to Nevada and Utah's Parks
My first experience to Utah's National Parks was a 2 week road trip in an RV. We started off in Las Vegas and rented an RV before heading out to Valley of Fire where I made it on local news talking about the government shutdown! After that, we went to Zion National Park where we had secured permits for the epic Subway hike. Our last stop was Bryce Canyon National Park, home of the famous hoodoos.
What made this trip so special was the ease of travel and the uniqueness of the hikes. I've never rented an RV before and once upon a time had some opinions on camping vs. RVing it. But this experience changed my mind about RVs. It was an easy way to keep our schedule flexible, cook healthy meals, and save some money. It was 2 weeks of stress-free vacationing and epic hiking! After the trip, we even enjoyed delicious Thai food at Las Vegas' famous Lotus of Siam restaurant. I enjoyed the trip so much that I'm planning another week in Utah visiting Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Must-do's in Utah:
- Secure a permit for The Subway in Zion
- Wake up for sunrise every day.
2. Solo Trip to Grand Teton
My first solo hiking trip was to Grand Teton National Park, where I spent several days exploring what the park has to offer. I went on three hikes, drove around looking for wildlife, and ate some delicious meals in the downtown area. What makes the Teton's so special, aside from the fact that the scenery is very similar to Chile's Torres del Paine without being thousands of miles away, is that the National Park is set up for tourists but keeps a lot of the remoteness that we love. When I hiked to Amphitheater Lake, I was the only one for most of my 10 mile hike. I saw more bears than humans that day. But the minute I got back, I sat down for a fancy latte and pastries at Persephone Bakery.
Must-do's in Grand Teton:
- Go to Mormon Row at sunrise
- Hike the Paintbrush Canyon - Cascade Canyon Loop (counterclockwise)
- Stay Bear Aware
3. Exploring Washington State's Central Cascades
I did a lot of hiking near Seattle last summer, and there were definitely a lot of great areas. But my favorite weekend trip was in the Central Cascades. We rented an adorable A-frame cabin from Airbnb and spent the weekend hiking to Lake Serene and Blanca Lake. What made this trip so great was that it was easily accessible from Seattle and the hiking was beautiful. We spent our first day in the city, getting lunch with friends and seeing some nightlife. Afterwards we rented a car and drove a little less than 2 hours to get to to our A-frame. The A-frame cabin was like nothing I've stayed in before, so I really enjoyed that intimate experience. And of course the hiking was beautiful. Blanca Lake's turquoise waters blew me away, and it's usually something I have to fly 6 hours or more to see.
Must-do's in Washington:
- Take a weekday off for the more popular hikes. Weekend crowds ruin even the most beautiful scenery
- Spend at least an afternoon in Seattle enjoying their coffee culture