Throughout the history of America, the West has been a source of legend and wonder. It’s the site of our Manifest Destiny, a place of palatial forests and immense cliffs, the home of cowboys, bright stars, and howling coyotes. But really, when it comes down to it, the West is a great place to hike. Yes the West is huge. It can be hard to figure out where, exactly, one should strike out for a mind-blowing hike. Other than tropical jungle, there’s every type of terrain imaginable. There are rainforests, high deserts, mountains, canyons, plains, and even an entire landscape of nothing but lava rock called ‘Craters of the Moon’. Don’t let size and variety discourage you. Here are the best hikes to get you on your way to exploring the western United States.
Grinnell Glacier: Glacier National Park, MT
They don’t call Glacier National Park the ‘Crown of the Continent’ for nothing. It’s a hiker’s paradise, with over 700 miles of trails. Here is one of the most spectacular hikes in the West. Why? It’s a chance to view a rapidly disappearing sight: Grinnell Glacier. There are two choices for this hike. Either start at the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead, or shuttle across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. The shuttle cuts off 3.4 miles of the hike, for a hike that totals 7.6 miles.
Along the way to Grinnell Glacier is the stunning Grinnell Falls rushing from Grinnell Lake down the headwall. Through the alpine meadows one can gaze out at the 9,553 foot Mount Gould, and Gem Glacier, home to the famous Grinnell Glacier, which was discovered by the founder of Audubon Society, George Grinnell.