You have the right gear, now you need the right place to hit the trails and really stretch those legs on a backcountry adventure. There is no better place to look than the Pacific Northwest so here are a few destinations that will get you excited about backcountry trips into the wild.
Glacier National Park – National Park Service – Montana
Simply put this is what the world would look like if humans never existed. A truly pristine wilderness that extends across the Rocky Mountains of Montana and into the vast wilderness of Canada. Here you can take extended backcountry trips that will take you miles away from civilization and into areas that have mostly remained untouched by man. Clear blue lakes, white-water rivers, cascading waterfalls and endless mountains and valleys will make the perils of the trip well worth the effort. Going across some of the most rugged and untamed wilderness regions the world has ever seen. You will be surrounded by Moose, deer, elk, Grizzly bears, Mountain lions, and Wolves. Mountain peaks white with snow year round, and valleys so green you will be blinded by their vibrant glow. This park is only open for the summer months, the snowfall in that region make getting out there impossible as the roads are closed. Having said that, “The Road to the Sun” that you take to enter the park will make you feel like you are driving through a warp into another time and place. It will be like no place that you have ever gone before. Be sure to bring your passport since part of the park is in Canada and you are truly not going to want to miss any of what this place has to offer. A rare opportunity to visit an international park.
Mount Rainer National Park – National park Service – Washington
Probably one of the Pacific Northwest’s most iconic peaks, Mount Rainer is host to a world of backcountry hiking trails that will take you on a journey through some of the most beautiful landscapes on planet earth. In the spring walk through vast and grassy meadows filled with colorful wildflowers in full bloom. In the fall, watch as the season changes everything into a kaleidoscope of colors that will ensure every picture you snap will be a masterpiece. You will also be able to ascend the mountain as well up that will take you to many scenic vistas and overlooks, high above the rain clouds that form daily below. It is a rain forest so be prepared for that, but you will be shocked at just how green the color green can truly be. What is so simply amazing about the area is how diverse of an ecosystem it really is, just on the opposite side of the mountains reveals a dry and vast desert. There are very few places on the earth and in this country where you can wander from a rain forest to the desert, and its something I highly recommend.
The Three Sisters Wilderness – United States Forest Service – Oregon
Covering an area of 448 Square miles but also being close to civilization makes this wilderness area not only accessible, but a must experience location. With 20+ trails that take you miles off the beaten path and into a true wilderness area. Some of the trails take weeks if you include all the off-trail stops you will take with all the scenes to take in, one of the trails is set for 3 days but do yourself a favor and give yourself a week. You simply cannot see it all in that span of time. Take the camera so you can capture the moments and make everyone green with envy about your backcountry trip. One of the other great beneifts of this region is that you get to experience a lot of the wilderness and the wild without having to be too far from civilization. The needs to slow down and take in all the experiences this park has to offer is without a doubt the best bit of advice that I can give anyone. Something I have also noticed about this park in particular is how vastly different it is during the different times of the year. So plan several trips back to this park during the fall, spring and summer and even winter! So you can see it in all of its glory, and each season has something new to show you.
Yellowstone National Park – National Park Service – Wyoming/Montana/Idaho
You will be hard pressed to find a more pristine and better location for our backcountry adventures. Yellowstone has a history, it is the First National Park in the United States and really the entire world. The first of its kind, Yellowstone has more wonders and natural beauty than any other place in the country. The Park is positioned on top of a massive, “Super” Volcano. So there is geothermal activity going on such as geysers, paint pots, mud volcanoes, and deep cavernous holes that seem to be filled with crystal clear water…near boiling temperatures. Once you enter Yellowstone you will have at your disposal hikings, fishing, and camping and of course plenty of scenic locations to drive and visit. You can visit Old Faithful and experience a spectacle that has been a park favorite for over 100 years.
Let us not discount the fact that there is an ABUNDANCE of wildlife thriving within the borders of the park. Animals that elsewhere are scarce or even close to extinction. There are herds of wild bison roaming the park, Elk, deer, wolves, coyotes, eagles…it is a thriving and well populated ecosystem with so much to see and do you will need to plan to stay for several days.
There are also an extensive network of hiking trail that lead you well off the beaten path where no motor vehicles are allowed. Be sure to check with the ranger stations on how you can secure a backcountry permit!
The Pacific Northwest was made for those that love the backcountry. With so many options to chose from here are a few to serve as a starting point. No matter where you go plan ahead, and know that no matter where you chose to go, you will see the wild as it was meant to be.
Born in North Carolina, raised all over the world and currently living in the Rocky Mountains above Montana. I have spent most of my life fishing, hunting, exploring and adventuring. While the adventure continues I have started to jot a few of them down and write. I Love Fly Fishing and sharing what I know with others. Fish on!