Pouring over 500-plus photo submissions would be grueling work in any other contest. Not this one. Your striking images prove BACKPACKER readers explore the backcountry's best places, and have the skills to bring home amazing photos. Here are the best of the best.
Trek to shoreline campsites through woodlands rife with moose, birds, and wolves.
Explore Great Britain's answer to the Appalachian Trail.
Marvel at Middle Earth on this 33-mile, four-day Milford Track.
Brave the Old World's newest and wildest long-distance route.
Hike locals-only trails in Europe's other Alps. This 500-mile track combines rugged hiking by day with luxe living by night
We've traveled to 10 countries and uncovered the best adventures you never knew existed.
Weave through the Dolomite's limestone daggers.
See azure seas from rocky peaks.
Trek through the earth's wildest mountain range.
Associate editor Shannon Davis tells us more about the highs and lows of his honeymoon trek (featured in March 2009's "The Perfect Circle") on the sky-scraping Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
Trek empty terrain all the way from the Grand Canyon to Zion.
See one of the sea's keenest hunters as you paddle San Juan Island.
Beat your own path through Denali National Park's confounding and little-traveled
Get your feet (and more) wet on the Florida Trail's best section.
The most remote spot in the Lower 48 is inside Yellowstone National Park. It's also the goal of our correspondent. What he encounters–and what it says about the solitude backpackers treasure–will surprise you. PLUS: See more of his photos and read a Q&A.
We've got a selection of cozy shelters and trail-side restaurants from Washington to Maine. Check out these hikes in the Rockies, the Northeast, and the Northwest.
Explore big skies and pristine lakes in the Medicine Bows.
Mark Jenkins, the author of "Destination Nowhere," discusses his Yellowstone assignment to find the most remote spot in the United States.
These weekend float trips have side hikes that rival the paddling for scenery and solitude.
How to retrace each segment of the author's perfect week from "A Perfect Week in the Tetons."
You won't waste a minute with our only-the-highlights hiking and climbing guide to the West's archetypal range. From the loftiest summits to the loneliest cross-country routes, this seven-day sampler visits every type of Tetons treasure-and then some.
Shhh! Find silent shores in this isolated Boundary Waters hideaway
After nearly two centuries of ecological havoc wreaked by invasive species, the gem of Channel Islands National Park is becoming a paradise again. ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Watch a video and see two photo galleries from the island.
Learn where to bag peaks, visit hidden cold water lakes, and trek through the eroded wonder of Badlands National Park in our Black Hills primer.
How Cold War weapons sites are becoming America's most unusual new preserves.
Hike the best section of the Great Divide Trail.
With a thousand islands and countless passages, this little-visited treasure is a watery maze. Here's the way in–and out.
Only an hour from Seattle, this Cascades gem offers killer Rainier views.
No, not the famously wind-whipped peaks in New Hampshire. Explore some of the country's lesser-known Whites with these accessible spring summits in Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.
Check out the steepest trail, the best swimming hole, and the wildest vista in America's most popular national park.
Utah's Range Creek hides the most intact Native American artifacts in the United States. Get there now–while you can still play archaeologist.
Traverse Guadalupe Mountains National Park to the state's airiest perch.
Discover a slice of rare Eastern wild country in West Virginia, where Canadian taiga meets Southern forests.
Avoid the crowds in Maine's Acadia National Park by skipping getting a jump on the season and hiking the park in the Spring. Stephen King country never looked so good.
Three ways to hike, bike, and paddle your way to freedom in the Twin Cities.
By foot, kayak, or on top of a Boulder, North Georgia has plenty of outside activities.
Sneak in the side door for a private viewing of the finest in California's High Sierra real estate.
3 hidden hikes in our readers' favorite backpacking park
You'd never guess it: Three quiet trails in such a busy, beautiful place.
Just minutes from Anchorage lie dozens of world-class hiking and paddling trips. This guide gives you the best, plus gear and travel tips to smooth the way.
This wild Ozark gem is close to St. Louis, but still waiting to be discovered.
This gorgeous alpine lake hike sports huge glacier views just an hour outside of Vancouver.
A definitive guide to the hottest, sweetest, looniest, and most colorful spots in the great outdoors.
Spring is for the birds. Here's where to find a flock near you.
Can a place that sees 9 million visitors a year really have any surprises? You bet. We found three hikes full of unexpected history, scenery, and solitude.
It's as big as California, boasts more volcanoes than Alaska, and counts nearly as many geysers as Yellowstone.
Here's a detailed hiking planner that will take you to the hidden corners of Colorado's most scenic park.
Bust out of winter doldrums on one of these stellar snowshoe routes.
Want a ceremony that reflects your passion for the outdoors? Here's everything you need to know to pull off a wilderness wedding.
Deep in the heart of the forbidden Tibetan kingdom, a long-awaited adventure inherited from the author's father takes an unexpected twist.
With strong legs and an ambitious plan, you can see more wild country in 12 hours than some backpackers see in a week, and still make it home in time for dinner.
Learn the weird science behind our addiction to waterfalls, and the location of the best trails in North America.
Aconcagua's West/Southwest Face offers climbers more challenge on the Western Hemisphere's highest peak.
Jasper National Park, Alberta
Yoho National Park, British Columbia
The Obelisk offers a remote climbing challenge far removed from other Sierra hotspots.
Haystack Mountain offers a sweet climb in Wyoming's remote Wind River Range.
City life got you down? Head for the quiet hills of southeastern Washington, where the air is clean, the water clear, and bighorn sheep outnumber hikers.
In Michigan's Trap Hills, you'll find space to wonder and wonder, and quiet rock outcrops with panoramas so wide you'll be blinking in disbelief.
Hiding in the arid plains of Nevada you'll find a cool refuge from the desert heat and room to let your imagination soar.
The short but stunning Mahoosuc Range has major-league attractions, like the toughest mile on the Appalachian Trail and conditions that discourage the faint of heart.
Hidden deep in Montana's high country lies the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, a seldom-visited range of cool forests and skyscraping peaks.
If you've never heard of Arizona's 40,000-acre Wabayuma Peak Wilderness, take heart--most people haven't. That's why the silence is deafening.
Face your fear of snakes and spiders in Australia's Royal National Park, and the bush will reward you with the journey of a lifetime.
Southeast France's Gorge Du Verdon provides backpackers with miles of narrow canyon walls, river wading, and strenuous hiking.
Deep in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, you'll learn to dodge fireballs and poisonous frogs while tracing a circuit around a living volcano.
When you hike the world's highest peaks in search of the legendary snow leopard, be prepared for the unexpected.
Planning an overseas backpacking trip? Here's a few tips to prepare you before you go.
Jungles, coral-reef wading and rocky scrambling await Tahitian adventure hikers.
The Bossi Bivouac Hut offers culture and comfort at the base of the Matterhorn.
A trip along Washington's Olympic Coast is one whale of a day at the beach.
In the Paria River canyon, adventure and breathtaking views await around every narrow bend.
Shady hiking and cool waters make the San Pedro River an oasis for desert trekkers.
With fossils present in all states (although New England tends to be fossil poor), you can get a glimpse of the past almost anywhere you backpack.
You won't have a lot of company in North Dakota's badlands, which is why hiking the Maah Daah Hey Trail is so good.
Thanks to the Cutler Coast Public Reserve, Maine's rocky, wild coastline is now open to backpackers who like solitude as much as scenery.
Head to the White Cloud Mountains for a crowd-free taste of Idaho high country.
Hike to the edge of the Cascade Range in this forgotten corner of the Washington wilderness.
Should secret wildernesses be revealed? Utah's Anasazi artifact hotbed Cedar Mesa begs the question.
For years, hikers have dreamed of trekking in Baca Ranch's untouched, wildlife-thick backcountry. You'll soon get your chance.
Paddle Wisconsin's Turtle-Flambeau waterway, watch the aerial show, and lay claim to your own island.
In Virginia, a miracle occurs and hikers get some new wilderness, thanks to The Priest.
High above the trees you'll find the hike of your dreams: a ridgeline trail where your only companion is an occasional mountain goat.
Take the finest mountains in the world, add high-country meadows, glacial valleys, alpine lakes, pine-and-hemlock forests, and what do you have? A recipe for backcountry bliss.
For 30 years, some wide-eyed dreamers have been chiseling a 745-mile route through the Canadian Rockies. The result is a labor of love set to become one of North America's most magnificent long trails.
In Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve, you'll walk on water -- almost.
Lines at backcountry outhouses. Hikers competing for tent sites. Is there any solitude left in New Hampshire's White Mountains? Lots of it, if you know where to go.
When venturing into country "untrammeled by man," we can thank Marshall's unlimited efforts to preserve it.
Ed Abbey said the Sonoran Desert "leaves a golden glow on the mind," which is one of many good reasons why this cactus-spiked paradise should be the next national park.
You may have the Ozarks' wildlife-rich Ridge Runner Trail to yourself, but that doesn't mean you're alone.
The condors know all about Chumash Wilderness, but luckily, the masses in Los Angeles don't.
It's the longest stretch of virgin coastline left in the Lower 48. But that's just one of many reasons to hike it.
The little-known Ouachita Trail ranked third among the long trails for solitude.
Cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, ancient pottery -- Utah's Grand Gulch is thick with history.
In the 1800s, cowboys didn't think much of the Grand Canyon's Parashant National Monument. Luckily, times and attitudes have changed.
In the 20 years since the passage of the Alaska Lands Act, nothing has changed in many of the state's wild places. And that's reason to celebrate.
The best trips are littered with mistakes, frustration, and, if a river called the "Little Misery" runs through it, boot-sucking mud.
For Deep South scenery, try Alabama's Conecuh Trail, where the gopher frogs and armadillos outnumber the people.
When summer ends, crowd-free hiking begins in Colorado's Indian Peaks.
The best way to honor a wilderness-minded senator is to hike the Jackson Wilderness.
More than ever, these empty parks offer medicine for the soul.
The French-Canadian trappers are long gone, but the grizzlies and waterfalls remain in this alpine nirvana.
Sure, you can summit Mt. Rainier, but the real treasure isn't on top. It's the Wonderland Trail down below.
If you think the last truly wild, unexplored land is in Canada or Alaska, you haven't been to Wyoming's Absaroka range.
Washington's gentle "forgotten mountains" -- The Kettle River Range -- are ignored by those in a hurry to reach the Cascades.
Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest is just what the hiker ordered.
Olympic National Park is pristine and isolated -- rare commodities these days.
A water-lover's Wisconsin wonderland with forests, prairies, and the occasional eagle.
Hike with sea turtles, watch the dolphins play, and share the beach with ghost crabs.
Near-complete isolation just a few miles from Virginia Beach.
Strap on the skis and glide across wind-sculpted snow into alpine solitude.
All trails lead to the top in this lake-lover's paradise.
Watch for ghosts among the mushroom-shaped rocks in this weird, lovely landscape.
Majestic peaks rise in all directions in Washington's Boulder River Wilderness -- elegant, jagged, draped in snow.
Just beyond the neon and greenbacks of Vegas lies a priceless wilderness gem.
A rugged land of sweet-smelling wildflowers, bald mountains, and stone Indians.
Waterfalls and swimming holes aplenty.
Hike up and down oak- and hickory-covered ridgetops, or explore underground.
You're as likely to bump into Sasquatch as another human.
Only have a short time to tackle the Pacific Northwest Trail? Our guide will give you the best the PNT has to offer.
In the Wind Rivers range, you can hike for days without seeing another soul, which is why it brings a pair of brothers back again and again.
Arkansas Buffalo National River features challenging trails and a river-laced wilderness.
More than 200 preserves, parks, and other protected wildlands lie within 40 miles of San Francisco, exceeding Yosemite National Park in size, biodiversity, and visitation.
Besides being home to a mythical reptile, Colorado's Lizard Head Wilderness is the site of some great hiking.
What they've lost in height, the Penokee Mountains make up for in big views and solitude.
In a park full of natural wonder, the route to Maddron Bald hits the high points.
Gain a raptor's-eye view of the world in Colorado's Eagles Nest Wilderness.
For almost half a century, California's rugged Ishi Wilderness hid "the last wild Indian." Even today, it is a place that can keep a secret.
As ice-cream makers in Los Angeles once knew, the Cucamonga Wilderness is the essence of cool.
Don't expect the red-carpet treatment in Arizona's Galiuro Mountains, just wilderness on its own terms.
Where 100 unknown Sierra miles wait.
Way up in Nevada's East Humboldt Wilderness, finding solitude and water are sure bets.
While Sawtooth Lake grabs the limelight, behind the scenes lie crowd-free peace and splendor.
If you look beyond the occasional cow, you'll find the BLM has lots of ruggedly beautiful land to offer. No mining, no oil rigs, just lots of solitude.
Why choose between breezy peaks and cool streams when you can have both at Big Frog Wilderness?
Secret scrambles and lakes abound in this northern California wilderness.
Hiking through wetlands in Pennsylvania? Believe it.
Oklahoma's own Tennessee awaits intrepid hikers.
Wilderness worthy enough to inspire any classical landscape painter.
Great Basin's Mt. Moriah is a big mountain of solitude.
A hike up New Hampshire's Carter Dome has it all -- mountains, forests, water, views, solitude, and even a little challenge.
Luckily, Aldo Leopold's prediction about Mt. Baldy didn't come true -- these Arizona forests are just as verdant as always.
Can you find solitude in Sequoia National Park? You can if you go off trail.
Hickory Creek Wilderness in the Allegheny National Forest remains a great hiking destination all year -- even in winter.
Crowd-free, rocky mountain highs -- you'll find this and more in Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness.
Get above treeline in Maine's wild Saddleback Range.
Dark, volcanic mountains soaring along the Pacific Crest make for a forbidding wilderness perfect for U.S. Marines in training -- or solitude-seeking hikers.
These quiet summits feature the best views of New York's high Adirondacks.
Highest, biggest, wildest: Colorado's Weminuche Wilderness is a land of superlatives.
Hikers often overlook the the quiet meadows, wildflowers, and mountaintops of New Mexico's Latir Wilderness. Their loss is your gain.
Texas' Lost Maples has beautiful desert vistas -- and mountain lions.
James Peak is a gem just 50 miles west of Denver.
You won't get a nosebleed on the Knobstone Trail, but you will get a taste of Hoosier high country.
In New Mexico's Pecos Wilderness, it's just you and the bighorn sheep looking down on the world.
In Alaska's Tongass, the ancient trees have something to say...if you're willing to listen.
The Tordrillo Mountains are so rugged, you'd swear you're the first human to set foot there.
An Ohio trail that reclaimed land from the ore era.
Think slickrock in July and your throat clenches, your skin shrivels, and parched bones rattle in your subconscious. But in winter, the snow sends the tourists and dry desert demons packing, and the frosted wonderland is all yours.
When the White Mountains' hot spots get too hot, there's always the Pilot Range.
In the fortress-like Mazatzal Wilderness, you can barricade yourself in solitude.
Drop off the lip of Linville Gorge into a world of rock escarpments, deep forests, and whitewater.
Deseret Peak Wilderness has everything the popular Wasatch Range does, except the crowds.
Panoramic ridge-hiking through New England.
There are plenty of Bambi's brethren along the Quehanna Trail-if you know where to look.
Sometimes you have to go where the guidebooks haven't been, but watch your step.
You'll find North Cascades beauty minus the rain in Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.
Keep your cool on Nevada's Mt. Charleston Loop Trail.
Wondrous lava formations in the Sierra's granite kingdom.
Head south to find the quiet side of the King.
A roadless wonder in California's Los Padres Wilderness.
A high country stunner that defines Colorado wilderness.
Waterfalls and old growth in this gorge-ous Oregon hideaway.
Washington's rocky, log-strewn shore is no place for beach bums.
The trails are lonely and the trout are always biting in this Inyo National Forest hideaway.
There's elbow room to spare in this lofty hiker's haven.
If the beauty of the Colorado Sangres doesn't leave you breathless, the altitude will.
Tundra hiking in the shadow of Washington's ice-cloaked behemoth.
Great lake views in Minnesota's land of moose and wolves.
All the park is a stage for nature's steamy performance in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The East Cactus Plain Wilderness brims with life and solitude. Just don't forget the water.
On its way from the Ohio to the Mississippi, Illinois' new River to River Trail takes you through a surprisingly wild side of the Corn Belt.
In a land with few trails, Alaska's Resurrection Pass stands above them all.
Quirky geology leads to even quirkier residents at Missouri's Hercules Glades.
While the desert sizzles, Arizona's Kachina Peaks are cool and comfortable.
Exploring the wilder, uncrowded reaches of our highest national park.
Tackling the High Uintas Wilderness from the east offers big paybacks.
Challenge and a hint of risk are part and parcel in Ramseys Draft Wilderness.
Get lost on Georgia's Duncan Ridge Trail.
Big South Fork provides Utah-quality arches in Tennessee.