Hiking Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens in Washington is one of the most sought after summits in America nearly forty years after its eruption in 1980. The desirability of this hike is not without reason, as it is truly one of the most awe inspiring adventures one can experience in the great outdoors. Beginning on the standard route, Monitor Ridge, hikers start their journey in the midst of a cool, temperate forest. As the trail progresses, the lush vegetation is left behind for an otherworldly landscape of gray and black volcanic rock, pumice, and ash. Sweeping views of the Cascade Mountain range, including snow-capped peaks of distant volcanoes, add to the surreal feel of this stark but beautiful area. The photo gallery below showcases some of these breathtaking views.

Upon reaching the crater rim, hikers are rewarded for their efforts with a view over the 2,000 feet deep hole that was created by the eruption. At nearly two miles wide, this crater showcases the incredible power that was released from the volcano, devastating St. Helens. This was an awe inspiring moment for my family’s three-generation hike to the summit. See the pictures below for my reasoning behind including this hike in my list of “The 10 Best Family Outdoor Adventure Trips.”

If you are hoping to climb Mount St. Helens, make sure to apply for a permit early. Due to the high popularity of this day hike, (nearly 14,000 people attempt it each year) the number of people that are hiking on any given day has to be controlled. This is done through a permit system for every hiker travelling above 4,800 feet. From April 1 to October 31, any hiker attempting this trek must purchase a permit for $22. While the price tag is not high, this backcountry permit is one of the most difficult to obtain in the United States.

The permits go on sale February 1, at 9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time and can be purchased online. Limited numbers of permits are issued per day and sell out very quickly. The numbers are 100 permits per day from May 15 to October 31, and 500 permits per day from April 1 to May 14. Be sure to apply early because these permits will most likely be gone by early spring or even sooner. You can apply for Mount St. Helens permits at mshinstitute.org/explore/climbing-permits/purchasing-your-permits.html.

If you find yourself unable to secure a permit for your preferred dates, don’t give up hope. You can be placed on the waiting list and still have a chance to get a permit. Due to having to reserve permits so far in advance, many people that do obtain permits end up not being able to make the trip. This means that there are people out there who will be looking to sell their permits, and rules even prohibit them from raising the price above the standard $22.

So apply for a permit! Mount St. Helens is a once in a lifetime adventure that will bring you and your family lasting memories for years to come.

National Park Adventures for Kids

Parents frequently ask which adventure in which national park should get their kids having more fun that they should consider taking the kids to. This is not always an easy question given all possible great choices in mind. What I do while advising on such questions, I focus on the kids age since this is the best way have figured out as right way of choosing the ideal kids trips. What I question myself is which of the locations will be an adventure much fun, safe and inspirational that children at a given age can enjoy fully.

Below is a compilation of five recommendations which are must-do, absolute national park family trips which are arranged orderly from the easiest for kids at younger age to those most challenging fir for more-experienced, older kids.

What you should remember always is that among the best aspects with this system of national park is that almost all park areas are fit for seen and enjoying by anyone despite of their age or mobility level. Nature wonders have no age limit.

For lovers of enjoying the outdoor environment and wishing to bring up kids with the same character, the list below works best for you.

No age limit: Yellowstone Ultimate Tour National Park

Your kids may not be able to remember their first visit to a national park especially at the tender age but with this be sure they will remember it. On seeing the elk and bison and mud pots and gurgling geysers especially how they burst to that uproarious laughter on seeing eruption of Old Faithful, be sure they can never forget. This place is best for visit anytime be it winter where they will enjoy the cross-country skiing and even summer periods. Young kids as well enjoy such environments. Yellowstone is a place which delights any person of any age and you will find yourself wanting to go back their once more.

Four years of age and above: Everglades Paddling

Kayaks paddling via tunnels of mangrove, Brown River, on placid watching snowy egrets, blue herons, brown pelicans and other birds termed exotic just fly overhead with alligators listlessly floating is fun. Canoes are available where you can canoe in the many islands around the place with the kids enjoying wilderness beach. You will also get to see dolphins, pink roseate brilliant spoonbills and saw ospreys while also watching the awe-inspiring sunsets towards Mexico Gulf. Everglades is among the greatest sanctuaries of wildlife on earth bigger than Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Glacier offering surprising adventure for a family.

Four years of age and above: Canyonlands National Park Floating

Enjoy a family trip of floating on River Green Canyon Stillwater found in Canyonlands Utah southern part of the National Park. You will enjoy kayaks, canoeing and rafts flotilla among other brilliant gazing moments with those canyon walls. For beginners in canoeing, the still and fast water makes ideal option with lovely and spacious campsites featured. This beautiful scenery is situated away from the world making it a perfect take-out.

Seven to eight years of age and above: valley Yosemite Waterfalls Hiking

For both children and adults this waterfalls majesty in the valley plunge over sheer cliffs producing roar which can drown out freight train inducing quite speechless awe which is followed by delightful laughter after walking through the mist which the waterfalls create paving its way through the blue sky. Kids who have nice hiking stamina definitely will love the mist trail to Nevada fall and vernal fall. The kids will also feel very powerful after ascending the trail of Yosemite falls to its upper getting to the waterfall’s brink which is 1430 feet tall.

Seven to eight years of age: Olympic Wild Coast Backpacking

This place offers very tide pools where you can play in. you will also get to see wallpapered boulders with sea anemones, mussels and vividly purple or orange starfish. Seals and sea otters along the shore, bald eagles will feature flying overhead. You will get to see descending and ascending wood and rope ladders on those cliffs. This backpacking is similar to an amusement park, Water Park and nature’s aquarium which are rolled into a single beautiful and unforgettable adventure.

Great Backpacking Places to Visit

One of the things that makes a backpacking trip unique is that it is a low-cost independent type of travel. The duration of the trip is longer than regular vacations, giving the backpacker more time to explore the world and for product testing some of the great hiking gear we got for free from these guys just before we left on our latest trip. For a person with experience in backpacking, a great backpacking trip should be full of adventure, something like a hike through a forest trail, or a long walk in the wilderness.

Here is a list of the top 10 top-shelf sceneries that is mandatory for any backpacker who wants to have an adventure they will live to remember.

1. Grand Tour of Yosemite
Distance: 152 miles long
Difficulty level: 4

John Muir, in his love for exploration, came across a few world-class wildernesses, but he focused his time and energy on the Yosemite. For many people who have been there for hiking, it is the best national park for a backpacking adventure. I made several trips there and thought I had seen the most beautiful corners if the park, including the many parks well situated in the core of the trail. You do not want to miss the summits of Hal Dome, Clouds Rest, and John Muir Trail. The real soul of the wilderness, however, is the vast deep of granite-walled canyons that peak up to 12,000 feet. The mountain lake is the picture-perfect scenery of the landscape.

2. Northern Glacier National Park
Distance: 90 miles long
Difficulty level: 3

The Northern Glacier National Park is endowed with rivers of ice that pours off the cliffs and mountains. The thick green forests, numerous lakes (over 760), mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and black bears are a reflection of the abundant natural resources that lie within the park. It covers over a million acres, most of which is wilderness, and this explains why it is such a favorite hiking place for backpackers. The hike distance is divided into 65 and 25-mile legs, and in the two stretches you will get to see all those sceneries, including the bears, and you will enjoy a degree of relaxation when experiencing many of the park’s highlights.

3. Teton Crest Trail
Distance: a variation of 33-40 miles
Difficulty: 4

My first backpacking trip, and which has the most significant hold on my memory was on the Teton Crest Trail. It is located in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, and I was so inspired that I made my way there 20 more times after the backpacking hike for rock climbing, paddling, backcountry skiing, and day hiking. The jagged skyline always sends chills down my spine.

It is such an adventure to run through the heart of the national park, and while at it, do not miss the adjacent National Forest lands. The trail is above the tree lines for much of the distance and gives you an excellent view of the peaks. It beautifully drops into the upper forks of the Granite Canyon, North Fork of Cascade Canyon, and South Fork Cascade.

4. Zion’s Narrows
Distance: 16 miles
Difficulty: 3

The Zion’s Narrows in Utah carries the slender North Fork of the Virgin River that uniquely carves through the red rock Canyons. Its walls are rise to 1,000 feet tall and are 20 feet apart at some places. The beauty lies in the springs that gush out from the walls, purposefully nourishing the hanging gardens. Backpackers will enjoy making a descent of the Narrows, walking in ankle or waist deep water, over cobblestone riverbed that slows down their progress.

Although just 16 miles long the shortest of the other hikes in the list, you will definitely be in no hurry to complete one of the most enthralling hikes in a National Park environment.

5. John Muir Trail
Distance: 221 miles
Difficulty: 4

From the Yosemite Valley, you will need to cover 211 miles to get to the John Muir Trail, which is the highest summit. It is described as America’s Most Beautiful Trail, and once you set your eyes on it, it will be hard for you to argue against the clam. The John Muir Trail Lies in the Lower 48, 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park.

It will take you two to three weeks to travel through the Trail, and be prepared for a jaw-dropping adventure with every mile covered. The countless waterfalls, pristine lakes that nestle in granite basins, numerous climbing passes between 11,000 and 13,000 feet are views you do not want to miss in the hundreds of miles stretch. It is not the best place for solitude during peak season though, but the JMT should be a definite on the list for any serious backpacker.

 

Five More Great Backpacking Hikes in the Western United States

Today we’re going to explore five more great backpacking trips. Some of these are more difficult than others, and we urge each hiker to consider his/her condition, experience, and of course, time’s a-wastin’!
So put on those hiking boots and let’s go!

№ 6:Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon

This is 34.5-miles with a difficulty rating of 5.

There can be few more irresistible allure to a satisfying day out than what Grand Canyon National Park website features. Many consider this to be a most difficult established hike. Hiking over the South Rim is indeed probably more hazardous than many other canyon trails. This includes one required rappel and hikers have to remember to tote plenty of water while out on its Tonto Trail. Since there’s no water. Lack of water could be a big problem.

The website does, however, remindvisitors thatRoyal Arch Loop is “a top-drawer canyon adventure filled with more natural beauty than most humans can absorb.”

Leaving aside all poetic prose, it has to be told how three friends and did this hike. Extremely rugged hiking experience for sure. We found this to be much more demanding than we had expected plus hazardous as well thanks to a required rappel that is definitely not for amateurs. This demanded all our skills and gear to manage this in a safe manner.

Below, however, we bedded down in a most spectacular campsite. Our wildest expectations were exceeded.

№ 7: Southern Olympic Coast

A 17.5-miler with a difficulty of 3.

This leads you from Hoh River to La Push road through our fabulous Olympic National Park in Washington’s rain forest. My kids still remember this as one of their most memorable— this because they (one nine and one seven, got such a great time splashing about in tide pools.

Giant trees in one of earth’s largest virgin rainforests make this a particularly gorgeous place. Enlivening this areoccasional misty views of scores of sea stacks rising up some two hundred feet. Sea stars, mussels, and anemones wallpaper boulders make this rugged and extremely muddy over trailsskirting impassable headlands, sightings of wildlife such as seals, sea otters, even whales — and to my kids’ delight, plenty of slugs. Rope ladders permitted a climb and steep descent alongoften cliff-like terrain.

№ 8:Wilderness of Spider Gap

Rating: a 44-mile difficulty of 4.

Twenty years have flown by since our arrival in firstWashington ‘s Cascade Region — breathtakingly beautiful mountain ranges. When you get ready to raise your sights and take an extra notch higher on your backpacking adventures, be sure to go for this one.

№ 9: The Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho

While at nearly fifty miles, this isn’t to be recommended for beginners. Difficulty rating of 3 isn’t so bad…it’s distance that can be a real problem for those not quite prepared for such an extended hike.

But for those with experience and stamina, Idaho’s Sawtooth mountain ranges. presents a real challenge. Gorgeous scenery along its length offers you a lot more privacy alongthan in many other areas.

The word is out, however, as more and more hikers learn about this region.

I’ve visited most of this since moving herealmost twenty years ago.

My recommendation would be to spend a few exciting and interesting days poking about. You won’t regret it. That includes some five-star campsites.

№ 10:Oregon’s Mt. Hood

At forty-one miles thisrequires a bit of stamina with only a difficulty of three.

But make no mistake, Mt. Hood has all the bells and whistles of any mountain.

 

 

National Parks for Vacations

River Salmon’s Idaho’s Whitewater Raft Middle Fork

Among the most thrilling, remote and scenic adventures which my family ever took was the six days of whitewater rafting down river Salmon classic Idaho Middle Fork. River Salmon flows just like arteries do via the heart down the second to largest in united States continent federal wilderness about 2.4 million acres long. Lots of whitewater with some of them class IV and III and three hundred raptable rapids plus awesome side hikes to waterfalls and overlooks.

Sequoia Backpack National Park

A backpacking trip in this national park will guarantee you a 40-mile hiking through the backcountry, quiet grove of Sequoias gain and also over 11000 foot passes ad 10,000 foot at the 12,000 foot with granite peaks. Camping is also available at 2 lakes which will get you listing them among the best campsites in backcountry. Be sure you will always consider the place as the most ever photogenic you have ever hiked along.

Jotunheimen Trek National Park in Norway

This is an arctic-looking vibrantly landscape which is colorful from the wildflowers, mosses and shrubs. It features mountains and cliffs which look like someone used an axe to chop them from earth. Crack-riddled, thick glaciers pouring from the mountains in a way like batter of pancake in need of water. This park also has meandering braided rivers which flow down the treeless valleys rendering wild roaming. You will see the summit snowy and with glacier-clad peaks which tend to roll towards the horizons. The park offers world’s excellent food and comfortable huts. It’s also referred to as “Home of the Giants.”

New Zealand Fiordland Sea Kayak National Park

Just imagine of the ocean flowing to fill Yosemite Valley with water to about a third of the El Capitan height then each year pouring into the valley rain water 20 feet plus such that forests which spring from the waterfalls and granite walls thrive all through. Instead of such imagination, go to Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound which is located in Fiordland New Zealand National Park where cliffs of jungle-clad rise up from the sea to about four thousand feet summits.

Fiordland is the largest as the sprawling area covers 3 million plus acres which is like Yellowstone and Yosemite national park’s when combined. This park also homes among the greatest adventures.

Take father-daughter and father-son adventures

At tender ages you can take your daughter and on separately from the annual father-daughter and father-son outdoor trips. I used to do this and later they turned to be ‘girl trip’ and ‘boy trip’. It will then become like any other event which your kids and you must squeeze time no matter how busy the calendars read yearly as you will not be able to miss out.

Five Great Family Hiking Trips

Spending time in the great outdoors is one of the most rewarding activities one can experience. Being able to admire the world’s natural beauty with friends and family makes this hobby even more rewarding. Here is a list of my favorite family backpacking adventures.

1. Trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc

The first item on my list is easily one of the most beautiful and fun filled treks my family has ever taken. The Tour du Mont Blanc is famous around the globe as an exceptional hiking trail, and it does not disappoint. Throughout the entire 105 miles we were surrounded by majestic views of France, Italy and Switzerland. Several mountain passes reach close to 9,000 feet of elevation, and offer scenic overlooks of glaciers, jagged peaks and “augilles,” as well as the snow capped dome of Mont Blanc. Known as the “Monarch of the Alps,” Mont Blanc is an inspiring presence reaching 15,771 feet in elevation. Overall, this incredible adventure was made even more special by the company of three generations of my extended family, including my 80-year-old mother.

2. The Magic of Hiking to Yosemite’s Waterfalls

Yosemite National Park in California offers an amazing diversity of experiences to its visitors. From thunderous waterfalls dropping from a 1,400 foot cliff, to misty walks through towering trees, this park definitely earns its reputation as one of the most iconic landscapes in America. Yosemite Valley’s sheer granite cliffs and magnificent waterfalls will inspire a sense of awe and wonder in anybody, regardless of their age. Children will experience the thrills of walking through the mist in the shadow of a waterfall or traversing a narrow catwalk on the final steps to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. Parents and young ones alike will marvel at the sunlight on the granite cliffs and the memories you make with your family will be cherished forever. Read my story to start planning your own Yosemite adventure.

3. Three Generations, One Big Volcano: Pushing Limits on Mount St. Helens

I can confidently tell you that Mount St. Helens is hands down one of the coolest day hikes in America. The standard route, Monitor Ridge, begins in a shady forest and leads hikers onto a gray and black moonscape of volcanic pumice and ash. This otherworldly environment is made even more surreal by views of the Cascade Range, including snow-capped peaks of other volcanoes like Hood, Adams, and Rainier. The hike isn’t an easy one, with 4,500 vertical feet of up and down over 10 miles round trip and rugged terrain including loose stone and ash, it does make for a challenging adventure. My family set out on this trek with three generations in tow from my 11 year old daughter to my 73 year old father. I was able to secure last-minute permits to hike the mountain, but hours into the ascent things took a bad turn. Read on to see how it all turned out.

4. Dropping Into the Grand Canyon: A Four-Day Hike from Grandview Point to South Kaibab Trail

Every list of great hikes should include the Grand Canyon, right? While the views and landscapes here are iconic, backpacking in the Grand Canyon requires careful selection of routes as the area is unforgiving and can be dangerous in the heat. This four-day, 29 mile hike combines two highly accessible and spectacular trails on the South Rim that deliver constant views of magnificent canyon vistas.

5. The Wildest Shore: Backpacking the Southern Olympic Coast

This three-day backpacking trip on the coastline of Washington’s Olympic National Park remains a favorite for our kids. At the time they were nine and seven years old, and they absolutely loved hiking on the wild shore, playing in the water, exploring tidal pools, and uncovering treasures like an old, salt-worn buoy. Adults can enjoy this hike as well, admiring the offshore sea stacks, magnificent trees lining the beach, and the rugged natural beauty of the Olympic coast. All of these factors combine to make this one of America’s classic backpacking trips, and one your whole family will remember for years.