Wyoming Range NRT, Bridger-Teton NF, WY
With the perks of Yellowstone—bald-topped peaks and alpine valleys—but without the glitzy resorts, tourist jams, or red tape, the Wyoming Range offers über privacy just 20 miles south of the Tetons. Drop a car at McDougal Gap and hop on the Wyoming Range National Recreation Trail (NRT) at the Bryan Flat trailhead for a four-day, 39.3-mile point-to-point through one of the state’s undiscovered gems. (No need to pack for snow: This lower-elevation chunk of the NRT is usually clear in the early season.) Hike south and camp along reliable Willow Creek at mile 8.6; look for elk munching on nearby cottonwoods. (Be alert: Grizzlies have repopulated the Wyoming Range, so take precautions. Learn more at backpacker.com/bearskills.) Enjoy views of the Tetons the next day as you summit 8,850-foot Pickle Pass. Pitch camp at mile 20.6 in a meadow named for Theodore Roosevelt, who hunted the area’s megafauna. Watch for moose browsing in the willows, and follow the Hoback River drainage for 2 miles. Climb out of the basin to a timbered ridge. Hike 2 miles through undulating alpine meadows and spend the night near an old homestead (pictured) at mile 27.3, beneath hulking, 10,780-foot Mt. McDougal. Next day, continue 12 miles to your car at McDougal Gap. Contact (307) 739-5500; fs.fed.us/r4/btnf
Trail Mix — WestYour region's go-now guide: get your heart rate up by climbing 1,500 feet in 2.4 miles in Santa Barbara, visit the newest state park in Colorado, enjoy the solitude of the Wyoming Range, and more.