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  • Xanterra's Best Hikes

    Xanterra’s Best Hikes

Hiking is nature’s therapy.

Spending time outdoors while exercising is a great way to reap the benefits of what Mother Nature has to offer. Physically, the benefits of hiking are numerous, and even an easy hike will get your heart pumping. But walking over natural terrain exercises more than your body. Mentally, it’s a great way to disconnect from the responsibilities of everyday life and gain new perspectives on the world around us. It can focus your mind on the task at hand — often helping reduce stress and anxiety. Hiking is also beneficial for improving sleep quality, as it reduces technological distractions and boosts your mood.

Simply put, hiking rejuvenates the body, mind, and soul. So, if you’re ready to embark on the journey of a better you, Xanterra Travel Collection® can put you on the right path! Check out a few of our favorite hikes from around the world.



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Yellowstone National Park

The first National Park in the United States is also one of the most beautiful and widely known for its varied wildlife and unique geothermal features. The rugged beauty of Yellowstone cannot all be gleamed from the road — although a lot of gorgeous scenery can be appreciated from a Yellowstone road trip! Covering more than 2.2 million acres and with over 900 miles of hiking trails, the real beauty of Yellowstone is discovered on foot.



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A good hike to start with in Yellowstone National Park is the Mystic Falls Trail. This 2-mile trek will take you around the Old Faithful area through a forest of new growth, before eventually arriving at the 70-foot high Mystic Falls for amazing views and photo opportunities. At this point, you can loop around and finish your hike the way you came. But if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, continue to the Fairy Creek Trail and the Biscuit Basin Overlook. This is also an easy hike that will help clear your mind with natural scenery and geothermal activity.



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Many Yellowstone visitors come strictly for a chance to catch a glimpse of some of the unique wildlife that inhabits the area. For a chance to safely view the bison and their children (called “red dogs”), elk, bears, moose, and more, lace up your hiking boots, grab your binoculars, and head over to the Trout Lake Loop. This relaxing 1.2-mile walk in the woods leads you through the river, so keep your eyes peeled for river otters trying to feed on trout, and listen to any crunching of leaves and twigs for the chance to see a bear foraging in the woods. The trail eventually takes you up a 150-foot elevation through a Douglas fir forest, ending at a scenic mountain lake.



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If you’re looking for a more challenging hike in Yellowstone, head to Avalanche Peak Trail. This is an advanced trail and a favorite of Yellowstone hiking veterans. It will take you through beautiful meadows full of wildflowers and babbling pristine streams. When you reach the Avalanche Peak summit at 10,574 feet, you’ll take in the beauty of the Grand Tetons, the Absaroka Range, and the beauty of Lake Yellowstone. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars, plenty of water and snacks to eat. No matter what you bring, it’s guaranteed to taste ten times better after reaching the summit.



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Grand Canyon National Park

Exploring the Grand Canyon makes for an unforgettable adventure and a great way to challenge yourself. It’s often said that you haven’t truly experienced the Grand Canyon until you’ve seen it by foot. A little secret—the best views aren’t always gleamed from the top! The Grand Canyon is so, well, grand, that you really need to hike into it to get the full scope of its size and grandeur.

If you’re an intermediate to advanced hiker, consider the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden. One of the most iconic hikes in the park, this 8.8-mile trek will take you through 2-billion years of geological history. You’ll experience up close and personal the rock towers made of layers of white, red, rust, and rose. Because of its popularity, there’s ranger presence throughout the trek, which means it’s also a safe route to put your mind at ease. It’s easy to follow, well maintained, and quite beautiful every step of the way. Keep in mind, like many other trails in Grand Canyon, this is a reverse hike, which means it starts easy as you head down into the canyon, but the difficulty gets turned up by the end of the hike as you begin to climb up. Conserve your energy and keep a controlled pace to make this hike one for the books.



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For an easier, family-friendly hike, take the Trail of Time route. This easy stroll will let you experience the many layers and vistas of the Grand Canyon without descending into it. It’s a great opportunity for folks starting out their hiking adventures, and for families with little ones. You’ll be able to experience a wide array of geology, as rocks have been brought up and paired with educational signs — making it a great way to combine physical activity with educational material. Remember to always bring plenty of water, protective layers, your binoculars, and a camera so you can document your hiking adventure and the endless scenery of the Grand Canyon!



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Zion National Park

Zion National Park offers many gorgeous hikes to surround yourself with nature and forget about worldly troubles. Averaging 2,000 feet of depth, Zion Canyon is full of hiking opportunities, as well as stunning rock formations of cream, pink, and red. Zion National Park is home to a unique ecosystem, so you’ll want to take your time as you make your way through. And, if you’re lucky, you might encounter a few of the inhabitants of Zion throughout your adventures.



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Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is the perfect place for folks who are tired of city life and are looking for a bit of the solitude wilderness offers. Glacier National Park features over 700 miles of hiking trails that will take you through glacier-carved peaks and valleys with diverse wildlife, ranging from grizzly bears to mountain goats.



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For a can’t-miss essential trail, head over to the Avalanche Lake Loop. Sure, you might end up meeting fellow hikers (it is a popular trail), it’s worth it for the view. This 4.5-mile return trail leads you from the end of Cedars Trailhead up to a gorge and next to an open, rugged valley. Finally, you’ll arrive at a breathtaking view of Avalanche Lake. Pack a light lunch so you can enjoy it at the end of the hike and plan to have a bit of leftover time to really take in the view of Avalanche Lake fully.



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For another satisfying and worthwhile hiking experience, try Bowman Lake Trail. This is an intermediate hike, and it will exercise your body and mind with plenty of elevation and descent. It’s easy to make a day out of this hike since it’s about 14-miles roundtrip. You’ll be able to enjoy gorgeous views of the lake from pretty much any spot throughout the trail, so if you’re traveling with a group or as family, it’s easy to enjoy without reaching the summit.



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You’ll be remiss to visit Glacier National Park without making the trek to the legendary turquoise water of Cracker Lake. The hike to this photogenic lake is over 12-miles roundtrip, and every step is worth it. The hike is easy enough for people of all ages to embark on, and the dramatic mountains that hug the lake are sure to give you that peaceful, calming feeling that time spent in nature is known for. The waters of Cracker Lake are a deep turquoise color thanks to the rock flour that originates from Siyeh Glacier. To the south of Cracker Lake is the astounding Mount Siyeh, which rises more than 4,000-feet into the sky. It’s a good idea to allow for some extra time on this hike, as you’ll want to spend the day appreciating the majestic vistas and the gloriously blue lake against the dramatic mountains.


Death Valley National Park

For a complete change of scenery (and state of mind), plan a hike through Death Valley National Park. This legendary ecosystem is alive with unmatched beauty, flora, and fauna. You’ll find that your eyes get lost gazing upon the miles and miles of huge sand dunes, colorful rocks, and awesome canyons. The wildlife that inhabits Death Valley is unique, extraordinary, and almost as fantastical as the jaw dropping peaks that rise 11,000 feet above the neighboring valley. Spend enough time in the wilds of Death Valley National Park, and you’re sure to appreciate the lively and unexpected wonder of nature.


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To start your journey in Death Valley, head over to Zabriskie Point. This hike is suitable for all skill levels, so it’s ideal for folks who have just embarked on their Death Valley adventure. Professional and amateur photographers flock to this peak to grab that perfect sunrise over the desert. In fact, lots of people find their way to this trail during their Death Valley adventure. Since this is a popular spot, make sure to arrive early, bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and always wear comfortable and appropriate footwear.

If you’re searching for that rare oasis in the desert, then head over to Darwin Falls for a view of rare desert waterfalls and some cool shade. This hike is an easy trip, with just over 2-miles in total of walking. It begins along a dusty path, but before you know it, you’ll be surrounded by lush trail desert flora that will lead you straight to Darwin Falls. This is the most challenging portion of the hike, as you’ll have to duck to avoid tree branches, climb over rocks, and walk through some shallow rivers. But trust us, it’s worth it!



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Are you a more experienced hiker looking for adventure while you’re in Death Valley? Try the Mosaic Canyon Trail. This hike can take up to three hours to complete and is about 2.6-miles each way. Mosaic Canyon Trail takes you on a kaleidoscopic adventure through the thick slabs of marble that line the canyon. This hike is unique in that the canyon’s walls will hug you throughout the first 1.4 miles. This trek is perfect for warmer days, because the marble keeps naturally cool when the temperatures begin to rise.

Hiking provides us with a peaceful and often necessary escape. It helps you unwind and clear your mind, all while helping you trade technology for incredible natural wonder. Escaping into the wilderness is a healthy form of therapy. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced hiker, or someone who is just starting along the trails, there’s a hike at our legendary destinations for everybody.