Is there any country with a more diverse wilderness than the USA? Sure, Kenya has national parks teeming with wildlife, Australia boasts the Outback, and New Zealand has some insanely stunning countryside – but the USA has all this and then some.
That well-spouted statistic that only 30% of Americans have a passport may shock Europeans. Still, it's not that surprising when you think of the ample opportunities for exploring all that the USA has to offer.
From soaring mountains and lush greenery to vast deserts and icy expanses, this region has enough to give even the most well-traveled explorer a severe case of itchy feet.
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1. GO GRAND IN ARIZONA
The poster child for American wilderness, the Grand Canyon attracts almost five million visitors annually. You might think that sharing the site with so many other tourists would somewhat take away from the sense of wilderness, but it doesn't.
The Canyon is vast enough for everyone to find their sense of the wild. Especially if you head away from the South Rim, the most accessible part of the Canyon. A 10-mile hike (or 220-mile drive) away lies the North Rim. It's higher, more relaxed, less crowded than its southern counterpart, and wilder. Delve properly into the wilderness and take on the rim-to-rim hike, which should take around three days and two nights.
2. I WOULD WALK 215 MILES…
This hike ends all walks through some of California's most beautiful wilderness. Take the John Muir trail, and you'll trek through Yosemite National Park, the Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sequoia National Park, and King's Canyon National Park, ending 215 miles later at the majestic Mount Whitney.
It's a walk full of records: you'll pass the world's most giant trees, one of the USA's deepest canyons, before finishing at the country's highest summit. Of course, walking 215 miles is going to take you a while. If you can't spare the time, a trip to Yosemite is a must.
3. ON AN (ARCTIC) ROLL IN ALASKA
It's the USA, but not as you know it. If you've seen the excellent movie, Into the Wild, you'll be familiar with the beauty and remoteness of Alaska's stunning scenery. Experience it for yourself at the state's Denali National Park, where hiking, camping, cycling, and wildlife spotting are the order of the day. The time is right; you might even see the elusive Northern Lights here. Remote and undisturbed, this is the wilderness, all right.
4. SMARTER THAN YOUR AV-ER-AGE NATIONAL PARK
Not only is Yellowstone America's very first National Park, but it also inspired Yogi Bear's home (that's Jellystone National Park – see what they did there?). But this sprawling site has more to offer than firsts and cartoon bears. It has lots of real bears. For a start, the park is home to one of the continent's last, nearly intact ecosystems.
The bizarre fact of the day: the park's website warns that more people are attacked each year by bison than grizzly bears, so keep your distance. Hundreds of geysers are sprinkled across the park, including America's most famous, the Old Faithful, which erupts every 9 to 15 hours, shooting water up to 220 feet high.