The Best of the West: Where to Hike in the Great Wide Open
One of our favorite summer pastimes is hitting the dirt road and taking to the hills for a nice, long hike. And because of its clear skies, open pastures, and low humidity, there’s no better place in the U.S. to hit the trail than out West. Boasting countless National Parks and some of the most spectacular wildlife in the nation, the West is an adventurer’s paradise. Whether you're in search of New Age stimulation or a adrenaline-filled adventure, grab your walking stick because we’ve found some of the best hiking spots the West has to offer.
The Red Rocks of Sedona aren’t just a treat for the eyes, but they are also said to have holistic powers for the soul. With four vortexes surrounding the area, the funnels of energy are what make the city known as a “spiritual Disneyland.” Sedona itself has more than 100 trails winding around the sandy crimson terrain, all showcasing the gorgeous remains of ancient wetlands. After day on the rocks, hikers can kick back at the cozy and charming creekside L'Auberge de Sedona. L’Auberge has woodsy décor, stunning views of the red rocks, and private cottages. For some real Zen though, the hotel offers yoga classes, spa treatments along Oak Creek, and stargazing sessions with an astronomer, i.e. body and soul rejuvenation at its best.
Park City, Utah
Known more as a winter hot spot, Park City is perfect for hiking the slopes during the May through October season. Visitors can ride the gondola lifts for a go on the high-altitude trails, many winding down the mountains through creeks and waterfalls. Hikers looking for “natural luxury” can stay at the Stein Eriksen Lodge at the base of Deer Valley, Park City’s premier resort village. The lodge has a wilderness chic appeal thanks to its year-round outdoor heated pool, large fireplace, and wood-accented furnishings. The popular Deer Valley Music Festival each summer is just an added bonus for post-hiking relaxation.
When it comes to outdoor activity, Coloradoans take their pursuits very seriously. Breckenridge is another popular ski town, but offers a host of summer activities like fishing, biking, and, of course, hiking the breathtaking Rock Mountains. Though the area offers hiking for a full range of abilities, Breckenridge is more geared toward expert-level hikers. And because the trails are more intensive, the views are even more magnificent. To unwind, hikers can lodge at One Ski Hill Place, a RockResort. The condo-style units are cozy and well-appointed, and on-site luxuries like the sauna and steam room, “rejuvenation” massage center, and patio area with Jacuzzi and a fire pit will help even the most extreme hiker recharge before another day on the trails.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park stands an icon of the West because its beautiful, natural backdrop. Though summer is Yosemite's busy season, the park has five large separate regions filled with various wildlife and landscapes. The entire park is almost the size of Rhode Island, featuring hundreds of thousands of acres of outdoor recreation, and nearly 800 miles of trails. For post-hike accommodations, Yosemite has plenty of options for all budgets and comforts, but The Ahwahnee boasts one of the best views of the famous Half Dome. On the luxury end of lodging, the Ahwahnee has prime seating in the heart of Yosemite and dramatic architecture dating back from its 1927 debut, deeming it a National Historic Landmark. The hotel’s modern touches and majestic surroundings make the Ahwahnee one of the most impressive inns in Yosemite.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is one of the West’s most diverse cities, an old Native American-influenced town sitting between the desert and the mountains that attracts artists, history buffs, and nature-lovers alike. Just a short drive from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe’s rich landscape makes for great hiking almost year-round. The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado (formerly the Encantado, an Auberge Resort) takes advantage of the surroundings by offering beautiful views of the mountains from on-site trails through the Anasazi ruins and various rock formations. The laid back desert atmosphere makes Santa Fe all the more alluring to outdoor explorers.