Yellowstone National Park, WY
You could spend a lifetime exploring Yellowstone’s vast stretches of untouched wilderness—and you’ll want to after this marquee trip along the brink of a 1,000-foot gorge. Some of the park’s most dramatic views belong to the central Canyon district, where the Yellowstone River slices through a chasm of yellowish volcanic rock. Most see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from a handful of drive-to overlooks, but this 4.8-mile out-and-back is your ticket to a private sunset show along the canyon rim. From Artist Point’s vista of 308-foot Lower Falls, follow the rim .5 mile east to join the Clear Lake-Ribbon Lake Trail and enter a lodgepole forest where elk and bison roam. The trail climbs 200 feet to two campsites at Ribbon Lake. From the streamside site on the north side, hike a couple of hundred yards to the edge of the canyon and peer from the top of 1,000-foot Silver Cord Cascade. Linger here to watch the fading rays ignite the canyon with a golden glow.
Go July/August for snow-free trails Get there From Gardiner, MT, take US 89 south 5.5 miles; go left on Grand Loop Rd. Follow it 38.7 miles to South Rim Dr.; turn left for Artist Point. Permit Required; free Map BACKPACKER PRO Map Mt. Washburn via Dunraven Pass Trailhead ($20, backpacker .com/promaps) Contact nps.gov/yell Trip ID 333325
Wind River Range, WY
Upper Green River Lake
The remote, rugged, and remarkable Winds have a rep as an experts-only destination. But this sweet campsite requires just a two-hour hike along a mostly level trail. Kick back lakeside and enjoy the views, or explore nearby alpine terrain like Squaretop Mountain. get there At Cora on US 191 north of Pinedale, turn right on WY 352. Go about 40 miles; the road dead-ends at the Green River Lakes Campground and trailhead. Permit None required Map Earthwalk Press Northern Wind River Range ($10, onmimap.com) Contact fs.usda.gov/btnf