“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir
Do you have a dream adventure? How about the place you read about while waiting for your doctor appointment? How about that place your friend went to and raved about? Your first step in planning your wilderness adventure is to pick a destination.
There are a few primary considerations when making a selection. Use these questions to narrow in on your choice.
- What is your dream destination?
- What kind of terrain are you up for? Forest? Desert? Mountains? Grasslands?
- What kind of weather are you up for? Cold? Hot? Wet? Dry?
National Parks are a great place to start. Most have well established and well documented backpacking trails. The National Park websites also provide a lot of information. They include terrain details and weather conditions at different times of the year. That will make your selection and planning a lot easier.
The 2016 Mancation
In 2016 my son and I chose Yellowstone National Park for our mancation. We had 16 days total to travel there explore and return. After a little research we picked an area with forests, mountains, and open plains.
We spent two days driving to Yellowstone. We stopped at:
- Wall Drug,
- Badlands National Park,
- Mount Rushmore National Monument,
- Devils Tower National Monument,
- and the Crazy Horse Memorial along the way.
We then spent three full days in Yellowstone doing the normal tourist stuff followed by eight days in the back country. We explored the Southeast corner of Yellowstone known as the Thorofare. We hiked late July and experienced a range of temperatures. Some mornings were below freezing while reaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon. We didn’t get any rain, but we were prepared for it.
The Thorofare Ranger cabin, pictured here, is the most remote building in the lower 48 states. It is 32 miles from any roads.
After the back country, we spent a day in Jackson Hole, WY and The Grand Teton’s National Park. It was all pretty epic. I enjoyed it so much, now I’m committed to hiking all four corners of Yellowstone.
To select your destination start with your dream destination. Confirm that you are up for the general terrain and weather during the time of year that you plan to go. The goal is to enjoy your adventure so if cold weather isn’t your thing then don’t go to the mountains in the Winter. If heat isn’t your thing then don’t go to the desert during the Summer. Make enjoyment your focus. A wilderness adventure doesn’t have to be miserable.
Here are some additional things to consider when selecting your destination.
- Pick a destination that is in alignment with your physical abilities. See last week’s post “Wilderness Adventure: Am I Fit Enough?”
- If you are a beginner I advise that you have one or more hiking partners. Having hiking partners increases safety. Additionally, tackling your adventure with a friend will make it more fun. You’ll talk about it for years to come. Include your hiking partner in the destination selection.
- Consider your adventure budget when narrowing your selection. You should include travel costs, permit costs, and equipment costs. I will cover each of these in more detail in future posts. For now, do a general assessment regarding how much you are willing to spend. What will it cost to get there and back home? What will it cost while you are there? How much equipment will you have to purchase?
Next week I’ll post more specific information about terrain selection. I’ll then post about climate and weather considerations the following week.
What questions do you have? Let me know if you have a special destination. What attracts you to the location?
Leave a comment. Ask your questions. Join the discussion. Share with friends.
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