The little-known Absaroka (ab-SOAR-kuh) Mountains are the largest single range in the Rockies, and they undoubtedly form the wild core of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In their northern extremities, the Absarokas manifest their grandeur as steep, rugged spires, thanks to cliff-friendly blends of granite and gneiss. There among the pinnacles you'll find all the mountain wildlife of Yellowstone (mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, wolves and bears both black and brown), but with bigger, badder scenery and far fewer people.
The Missions stand out even in northwest Montana, a region with no shortage of steep, crazed peaks. Travel in this glacially eroded landscape of dense evergreen forest, hidden lakes, tusk-like 9,000-foot summits and long, knife-edged ridgelines can be described in three simple terms: Steep. Rocky. Strenuous. Basecamping is the best plan.
Fewer than 300 miles of trail crisscross the 158,615-acre Anaconda-Pintler, but only 45 miles along the CDT qualify as busy. At this northern latitude, treeline sits around 9,000 feet, and timberline regions are like bonsai gardens writ large; an aesthetic blend of spruce, fir, and the whimsical larch. The best way to experience it? A multiday immersion trek trip.
Rugged, scenic, and lightly traveled, the Beaverheads rise above Big Hole Valley's broad meadows as a skyline full of 10,000 foot summits with alpine lakes pooling at their feet. Outside of Montana, this place would be on every hiker's tick list, but here it fades into obscurity behind Glacier and the northern Bitterroots that loom above Missoula. Explore them shoreline to summit on these two hikes.
No need to fight the crowds in Glacier or Yellowstone. Montana is full of life-list trips--you just have to know where to look.
With 1,584 square miles of soaring peaks, alpine tundra, and yes, glaciers, this mountain mecca belongs on every hiker's life list. We rounded up five of our scouts' top treks in the Many Glacier region—so when you get there, you'll shoot straight to the park's best terrain.
Cross the top of Glacier National Park.
Discover Glacier's historic lodging.
Your region's go-now guide: See newts on the move in California and bears heading for lower elevation in Beartooths, MT
Your region's go-now guide
Your region's go-now guide.
Empty White Mountain summits. Tourist-free Yellowstone geysers. Rarely hiked Yosemite ridges. Rangers, guidebook writers, outfitters, and ultra-hikers dish their favorite routes for the first time.
Jump-start your hiking season on these spring-ready trips from around the country.
Iconic scenery bolstered by serious solitude? Get them both on this weeklong traverse.
More than 150 of you entered our contest to become a BACKPACKER field scout. Meet the winners.
Visit a glacier with millions of extinct grasshoppers entombed in its ice.
Upgrade your winter fun at these 8 beginner-friendly, expert-ready spots.
Scramble on red rock, camp at alpine lakes, cross a high pass, explore a trailless moonscape, and bushwhack to a peak.
Climb to a wonderland of tundra, rugged peaks, and dreamy lakes.
Think there's nothing wild left in the Lower 48? Don't tell the grizzlies on this traverse of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Rule #1 when planning a hike through this iconic park: Let your ambition match the scenery.
Go ahead, look again. And again. These images are worth a third, fourth, and then a tenth gaze.
A forgotten explorer's route leads to off-trail, high-peak adventure and bona fide solitude.
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.
Watch your step on Utah' Highline Trail. The nonstop views and rampant wildlife are distractingly spectacular. Plus: Gaze away on 9 more elevated hikes.
Hike these long trails in Montana, Idaho, Arizona, and Colorado, and raft an eight-mile section of the Arkansas River.
For sheltered scenery high above the trees, there's no better place than a fire tower. Try one of these editor-approved hikes to backcountry rooms with a view.
Hike Denver's lost wilderness, a twofer of peaks in Idaho, lava tubes in New Mexico, Zion's sneak route, and Bozeman's trout-filled lake.
See Yosemite's river of ice, witness there-and-gone meteor showers in Hawaii, and mark your calendar for eight more fleeting natural wonders.
Soar with the world's largest migration.
The only thing better than enjoying the life-list scenery in the country's premier national parks? Getting that same scenery, minus the crowds. Find it in these 10 backcountry hotspots, along with no-hassle permits, choice campsites aplenty, and solitude to match the world-class terrain.
The undisputed local experts—you—chose the top parks, trails, campsites, and weekend getaways from Alaska to Alabama.
Free Print & Go PDFs give you turn-by-turn trail instructions and photos embedded on a usable topo map. Also: gear checklists, driving directions, and geo-references for finding the nearest campground, restaurant, gas station, and grocery store.
Your favorite parks, weekend getaways, peak ascents, campsites, and more in the Rockies.
Your favorite Rockies hikes—from dayhikes to weekenders to multiday trips.
Trek through grizzly terrain in Glacier National Park.
We've covered 245,591 miles of trails in our 37-year history. Here are our 20 all-time favorite trips, plus—shocking!—20 routes we never covered.
Hike a forested, fire-scarred trail between two iconic pools.
The best hikes near Bozeman, MT.
The best local hikes in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana.
In Glacier National Park, summit a mountain that feeds three oceans.
Have rocky ridges and sparkling alpine lakes all to yourself.
For 20 years, Harvey Locke has fought to protect the park's Flathead River.
Score wildlife sightings daily, choice views hourly--and at least one juicy burger--on this weeklong circuit.
The perfect dozen: Embark on one of these 12 treks, and turn America's most iconic preserves into your own private paradise.
Spot a grizzly, basecamp amid Fourteeners, and relax in secluded hot springs. (Click linked trips for GPS waypoints, photos, and more.)
Our army of reader-reader scouts mapped 59 local hikes from South Carolina to Northern California. See their favorites, then learn how to download tracklogs and waypoints.
Score wildlife sightings daily, choice views hourly--and at least one juicy burger--on this weeklong circuit. Northwest editor Michael Lanza shows you how with a GPS tracklog and Google flyover video..
See the best of Montana without the crowds.
Live longer, take the North Circle Route. Glacier's highcountry views and crisp alpine air are rumored to add years to a backpacker's being.
Who ever said out of sight, out of mind was certainly not referring to the wealth of wildlife that are making some big noise in Thorofare Valley.
Online or via your cellphone these trips are ready to be downloaded and explored.
Cross the Stillwater Plateau to trout-rich ponds at the foot of Montana's second highest peak.
Close your eyes and hear the bullets fly: These three routes pass through
parks drenched in United States military history.
From camping with wolves to fly-fishing smarts this insider's guide has you covered.
Disappear into Yellowstone's secret northern fringe, where you'll find a rejuvenated landscape and total solitude (except for the bison and grizzlies).
Three treks to life-list phenomena
Development, bureaucracy, and apathy threaten this Glacier-like mecca, home to grizzlies, fields of beargrass, and superlative alpine hiking.
From dawn-to-dusk epics in Utah canyons to lazy-picnic blueberry strolls in Maine–plus hikes to peaks, redwoods, hot springs, beaches, and more–here are 100 ways to spend a perfect day on the trail.
First, check out our tips for healthy hiking on steep terrain in the May 2009 issue then, put them to the test on one of our favorite high-angle trails from California to North Carolina.
Locals get to enjoy what out-of-towners dream about–mountain-ringed horizons, alpine lakes, and bluebird skies that make these Rocky Mountain states the pinnacle of outdoor recreation.
Pack snowshoes for these nine epic treks to snowy solitude in the Pacific Northwest, Rockies, and Northeast.
Like your life and limbs intact? Then you'd better get skilled before visiting these trails.
Fatten griz for winter
Paddling, hiking, testing self arrest skills–we cover it all in these 10 epic trips throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Traverse the wildest part of the lower 48's last great grizzly hideaway.
Get vertical on a tricky class IV route to the top of Granite peak.
Nine ways to get your cascade fix from Tennessee to Montana.
Want a backcountry room with a view? Climb these lookouts from Vermont to Washington.
In "Destination Nowhere" (September 2008), Mark Jenkins explores the most remote wilderness location in the continental United States–a top-secret spot in Yellowstone. See his trip photos and read an interview with Jenkins where he discusses the assignment.
From the West Coast to the Rocky Mountains to New England, we've got nine epic ridgewalks just for you.
Looking to catch baby animals taking their first step? You can't go wrong with these picks.
We sent 209 readers out to GPS the Continental Divide Trail, the biggest, baddest, long-distance path of them all. They brought back the makings of the first authoritative map of this American classic. Here, read the Backpacker Blog on the project, and view three exclusive on-the-trail video.
Visitors to Montana's Glacier National Park can visit on the cheap or pay an arm and a leg -- but each way has its unique charms.
This wilderness area houses a classic section of the CDT but is a little off the beaten path.
From Florida to Wyoming, track wild horses for four hours or 10 days.
Explore six new routes through the most rugged, scenic, and wildife-rich mountains in the Lower 48.
16 wild ways to find backcountry solitude and big-time scenery. All this, and you can bring the ice chest, too.
The toughest high point in the lower 48
Can't make it to Canada? Try Glacier Peak, Baker Peak, or Catamount Mountain
The ultimate continental divide and a legendary mountaineering traverse
3 hidden hikes in our readers' favorite backpacking park
Get more Glacier hiking ideas in our online exclusive
The most-studied glacier in the park lets you see global warming in action.
Some of the most classic glacier scenery is offered to all visitors of this national park.
Want a ceremony that reflects your passion for the outdoors? Here's everything you need to know to pull off a wilderness wedding.
Hidden deep in Montana's high country lies the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, a seldom-visited range of cool forests and skyscraping peaks.
Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in Montana.
In an ancient cycle older than man, the fires that torched the West in summer 2000 are causing a dramatic and stunning rebirth of the once-charred landscape.
High on a Montana mountain, the mystery of a long-lost climber continues to unravel for those willing to make the arduous trek and search for clues that literally lie at your feet.
When venturing into country "untrammeled by man," we can thank Marshall's unlimited efforts to preserve it.
Glacier National Park possesses scenery that'll suck the breath out of your lungs, quiet so intense you'll wonder if your ears still work, and enough wildlife to make a zookeeper drool with envy.
The French-Canadian trappers are long gone, but the grizzlies and waterfalls remain in this alpine nirvana.
Is the legendary jackalope the most endangered species in the Lower 48 or just an old cowboy tale that refuses to die?
Montana and Wyoming's incredibly wild and beautiful Absaroka needs your help.
Montana: The Pryor Mountains harbor the nation's last free-roaming wild mustangs, not to mention wilderness that is as wild as the horses.
Bears electrify an already incredible experience at Glacier National Park's Bowman Lake.