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National Park



7 Aspirational Outdoor Jobs

Working in the great outdoors is (mostly) a dream come true. Here are seven wilderness-driven careers that'll make any cubicle-dweller green with envy. Text by Shey Kiester.

Isle Royale National Park Loop

See our readersí top spot, from lakeside to mountaintop, on a two-day loop.

West Rim Trail

Score a unique perspective of half-mile-deep Zion Canyon on this big-view shuttle hike.

Adventure Travel 2013: North America

Think you know adventure travel on your home continent? Not unless you've mixed paddling and hiking in Utah, highpointed the Caribbean, summited a Mexican volcano, and taken a few more trips on the wild side.

Packraft Utah

Can't decide between river and trail? Paddle and pad your way to the best of Canyonlands National Park.

Smokies Adventure Guide (2012 National Parks Series: Part 5 of 6)

Leave it to our seasoned map contributors to find solitude in America's most-visited park. This exclusive trip planner serves up routes guaranteed to get you off the tourist trail and into deep wilderness.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Chimney Tops via Newfound Gap

Follow fern-lined trails to scramble up a rocky pinnacle.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Maddron Bald Loop

Pass waterfalls, cross empty peaks, and visit monster-size trees.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Mid-Smokies Circuit

String together the Appalachian, Benton MacKaye, and Mountains-to-Sea Trails for a 48-mile instant classic that hits the park's best views and backcountry campsites.

Rocky Mountain National Park: Longs Peak

Climb this iconic summit on an uncrowded sneak route.

Make a custom map for your next adventure

We've partnered with myTopo to bring you the best in maps for your backcountry pursuits.

Mountain Map: Coast Range - Olympic Mountains

Explore peaks and forests in this coastal range.

Over The Edge

Nearly 150 years after John Wesley Powell's pioneering trip through the Grand Canyon, the park still conceals remarkable places no humans have ever seen. Contributing editor John Harlin joins a crew of explorers on a journey of discovery.

Best Week: Continental Divide Loop

Tour glacial valleys and navigate to off-trail lakes and waterfalls on this six-day circuit.

Best Weekend: Gorge Lakes

Hike cross-country to explore this secluded chain of hanging lakes.

Best Day: Longs Peak via Clarks Arrow and the Keyhole

Scramble up a 12.7-mile sneak route to the park's highest peak.

Rocky Mountain Adventure Guide (2012 National Parks Series: Part 2 of 6)

Our map team scouted more than 500 miles of trails and cross-country routes to bring you a summer's worth of escapes in the Rockies.

BACKPACKER GPS Trails PRO Trips

We've taken the best trips on backpacker.com and made them even better. Check out updated, interactive PRO trips and PRO bundles on GPS Trails. Use your Android or iPhone to discover these premium guides, or map your own adventures and share them with your friends.

Readers' Choice 2012: Reader Leader: Glacier Magic

More than 150 of you entered our contest to become a BACKPACKER field scout. Meet the winners here, starting with Colleen Contrisciane-Lewis, of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. She earned the all-expenses-paid grand prize: an assignment to hike—and report on—her dream trip. Read about her 85-mile, weeklong transect of Glacier National Park on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.

Readers' Choice 2012: Glacier Magic

Iconic scenery bolstered by serious solitude? Get them both on this weeklong traverse.

Readers' Choice 2012: Evolution Loop, Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP, CA

Hike cross-country to a pocket of dreamy lakeside camps on the John Muir Trail.

Perfect 10: North America's 10 Most Memorable Hikes

Ten trails. Ten unmatched miles each. Get maximum bang for each boot step on hikes that our most-traveled contributors call their all-time favorites.

BACKPACKER Map Maker iPad app

Plan hikes and backpacking trips, plus other outdoor adventures like never before on detailed, interactive topo maps and aerial photos.

A Piece of Quiet

Americaís leading advocate of wilderness silence shows the way to Mt. Rainier National Parkís quietest corner. Plus: 9 more campsites with life-list listening.

Rip & Go: Tonahutu Loop - Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Cross elk-filled woods and bighorn- busy flats on this park's quiet side.

Rip & Go: Santa Rosa Island - Channel Islands National Park, CA

Venture off SoCal's coast for long beaches, hidden canyons, and sea life.

Navigation Center

Learn how to make custom maps, navigate any terrain, and the ins-and-outs of GPS devices and mobile apps in our comprehensive navigation center.

National Parks: Grand Canyon

Discover surprising solitude and endless vistas on an easy-access multiday trip between rim and river.

National Parks: Glacier

Rule #1 when planning a hike through this iconic park: Let your ambition match the scenery.

National Parks: Olympic

On a climb from the Hoh River's silty riffles to high-country glacier views, pass through a moss-hung rainforest that might be the lushest place in America.

National Parks: Grand Teton

Wade through wildflowers, listen to wolves, and escape the crowded trade routes in this secluded corner of the park.

National Parks: View Finder

Go ahead, look again. And again. These images are worth a third, fourth, and then a tenth gaze.

National Parks: Yosemite

Enjoy this legendary park (without the legendary crowds) on a four-day trip through the Clark Range.

National Parks: Yellowstone

A forgotten explorer's route leads to off-trail, high-peak adventure and bona fide solitude.

Rip & Go: Rockytop Loop - Shenandoah National Park, VA

Escape Skyline Drive to discover secret summits and hidden valleys.

National Parks: Best of the Rest (Acadia to Zion)

Your life-list only starts with the top 10 parks. Our favorite hikes from the next 40 will fill it with glacier-edge paddling, desert-oasis exploring, and more.

National Parks: Great Smoky Mountains

For guaranteed solitude in the park's southwest reaches, explore this quiet loop during the off-season.

National Parks: Denali

Denali isnít just for experts. These guinea pigs will prove it. Probably.

Going to Extremes

Can you ever really have too much of a good thing? Once you've seen the biggest tree, largest glacier, and deepest canyon, nothing else compares.

National Parks: North Cascades

Come for the sheer, glaciated peaks, but be mesmerized by rain-fed waterfalls that pour down on all sides.

National Parks: Capitol Reef

Discover a private paradise by crossing the parkís convoluted Waterpocket Fold.

National Park Slideshows

See scores of stunning images from the Grand Canyon, Denali, Yosemite, and more.

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Our Backyard: Everglades National Park

Paddle to a beach-camping paradise in the Everglades.

Readers' Choice: Southwest

Your favorite parks, weekend getaways, peak ascents, campsites, and more in the Southwest.

Our Backyard: Denali National Park

Explore Denali's top dayhikes, photo ops, and epic wildlife treks.

Best Hikes Ever: North Vista Trail, CO

Aim upward for majestic views over an ancient canyon.

Best Hikes Ever: Summit Lake Trail, CA

Backpack a knee-trembling route through an active geothermal zone.

Best Hikes Ever: Logging Lake Trail, MT

Hike a forested, fire-scarred trail between two iconic pools.

Best Hikes Ever: Escalante Route, AZ

Plumb the wild depths of the Big Ditch.

50-Mile Thru-Hikes: Greenstone Ridge, MN

Traverse a seldom-hiked national park.

Ranger Confidential: Secrets of the National Park Rangers

True tales from the front lines--and behind the scenes--of America's national parks.

Glacier's Gladiator: Harvey Locke's Glacier National Park Mission

For 20 years, Harvey Locke has fought to protect the park's Flathead River.

Rip & Go: Hoh River to Third Beach Olympic National Park, WA

Cross a rugged coastline on the edge of Washington's Hoh Rainforest.

Secret Hikes of the National Parks

The perfect dozen: Embark on one of these 12 treks, and turn America's most iconic preserves into your own private paradise.

Watch it, Save it: Preview the Film Flathead Wild

The next best thing to hiking Glacier National Park's Flathead River Valley? Seeing the movie! Watch a trailer for Flathead Wild by the Epicocity Project.

Forest: Hoh River Trail, WA

This Olympic National Park trail features serious elevation gain and switchbacks galore.

National Parks Hall of Fame: Photo Galleries

Catch the best views in the nation's marquee parks from the comfort of your computer. Prepare to drool...now.

Reader Essays: Great Smokies Solitude

Greg Hoover shares his secrets for finding quiet on the busiest trail in the country's busiest park.

Reader Essays: The Ridge of Defeat

Barrie Imhoff tempts fate in Glacier National Park.

Gear Checklist: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

From the deep wooded hollows to the lofty Appalachian summits prepare for rain (Clingmans Dome, the park's high point, averages 85 inches each year), humidity, rapidly varying weather conditions, and lots of creek crossings. Here's what you'll need.

Natural Wonders: Three Treks to Life-List Phenomena

Check out the world's hottest hydrothermal fumarole, Glacier's grizzlies, and a venus flytryp in North Carolina.

Rocky Mountain National Park's Grand Loop: 3D Flyover and Tracklog

Fly the Rockies with our 3D video, then download the GPS track to do the route yourself.

Perfect Substitutes: Crowd-Free Destinations

You know that the big-name parks draw big-time crowds. But each of those outdoor icons has a lesser-known replacement that offers some of the same classic features and epic scenery–and you get it all to yourself.

Poll: What's Your Favorite National Park?



Find Hikes and Trips in National Parks and Regional Parks

Find hikes in National Parks and regional parks with our comprehensive guides.

Readers' Choice Awards 2009

Discover the best hike in every state, as voted by BACKPACKER readers. Plus: your essential gear, most desirable tentmate, worst-ever adventure movie, and our picks for the best reader-submitted photos.

Quick Fix: Big Bend National Park

Scout for gold–and desert views–amid this Texas park's spray of late-fall foliage.

How to Score Denali's Choicest Permits

The system was rigged, says a former ranger. Here's how to beat it.

Denali National Park

Hike with grizzlies in this remote northern corner of Alaska's greatest park.

Yellowstone National Park

America's first national park is a playground for grizzlies, wolves, moose, and hikers (not in that order).

Olympic National Park

Explore two ecosystems in this hinterland of moss-draped forests, ancient trees, and snowcapped peaks.

How to Light a Campfire in the Smokies

Trees, trees are everywhere, but sometimes there isn't a dry twig in sight.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Graze blueberry patches, explore swimming holes, and tag the South's high points on this sultry hike.

How Your Kid Can Save a Park

Send him out on a work trip. Let wilderness do the rest.

Grand Canyon National Park

Drop into America's belly on a little-known hike that dips in and out of four different canyons, each blessed with gurgling spring water.

Yosemite National Park

Climb classic Sierra passes, ogle granite monoliths, and camp above treeline in John Muir's second home.

Glacier National Park

Scramble up class III peaks and cross late summer snowfields on this strenuous but straightforward trip through Montana's big-mountain country.

National Parks Lifelist: Intro



National Parks Lifelist

The ultimate vacation in one of America's iconic parks requires the ultimate hiking plan: classic scenery, no crowds, and secret campsites. Here's how to spend a perfect week in Glacier, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Olympic, Denali, and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Is Inadequate Funding the Main Problem Facing the National Park System?

This question fuels the debate regarding how to help the aging national park system improve.

Phenomenon: Glacial Relics

The Ice Age left its mark from Acadia to Yosemite. Here's scenic evidence.

The Big Question: Should loaded guns be allowed in national parks?



National Park Vacation Planners: 3D Videos and Downloadable Beta

3-D hike videos, complete trip planner pdfs, our interactive ParkFinder tool, and more.

Should Mount St. Helens become a national park?

New legislation could make the volcanic monument a national park. But is that a good thing?

Web Exclusive: The Rebirth of Santa Cruz Island

Dive into the Channels Islands with exclusive on-the-scene video, photos, and trip reports.

Where Have the Animals Gone?

Scientists hike deep into California's wild high country to probe for answers.

Green Guide

In honor of Earth Day, we bring you the first industry-wide survey on which gear manufacturers are positively impacting the environment, plus much more.

The Future of the National Parks

Everyone loves national parks - but are they being loved to death? Join a star-studded roundtable to explore the fate of this embattled American institution.

Perfect Day: Saguaro National Park

Many people think exploring this 91,440-acre desert park is all about dodging the tall, spiny cacti that earned the place its name. But Southern Arizona Hiking Club guide Steve Singkofer knows better. His favorite 20.3-mile route - including a 4,500-foot climb - reaches overlooks of Tucson and far beyond.

Survival Story: Surviving a Grizzly Attack in Glacier National Park

On August 25, 2005, Johan Otter and his 18-year-old daughter, Jenna, hiked right into the worst nightmare of any Glacier National Park backpacker: a 300-pound mother grizzly protecting two cubs. Here, in his own words, the 45-year-old physical therapist from Escondido, CA, shares the incredible story of their life-and-death struggle.

Best Damn Weekend Ever: Oregon's Crater Lake

Circumnavigate Oregon's Crater Lake on snowshoes

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