One of the most spectacular hikes in Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, the 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail starts on the valley floor, winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breathtaking view of the Icefield. The trail is strenuous – it gains about 1,000 feet of elevation with every mile – and hikers should allow at least 6-8 hours. Although the view from the top is well worth the effort, you don’t need to hike all the way up to experience the wonders of this trail. This stunning photo shows the view of the wildflowers and valley below from part of the way up the trail. Be sure to check current conditions for the trail on the park’s website before heading out out on the trail. Photo by Chandra Sekhar Gantha (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The name Observation Point mildly describes the epic view from this overlook at Zion National Park in Utah. More than 2,000 feet below, the North Fork of the Virgin River winds through the lush canyon, curving around the dramatic fin of Angels Landing. If the elevation gain of the hike there doesn’t take your breath away, then the view surely will. Photo by Leslie Poole (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The Tioga Road at Yosemite National Park in California is now open for visitors exploring the remarkable trails in the Tuolumne Meadows. Removed from the hustle and bustle of Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows offer peaceful surroundings and amazing scenery. Hiking trails for varying levels of difficulty lead to a paradise of water, rock, forest and sky. We recommend cooling your heels at Upper Cathedral Lake. Photo by Luke Tyree (www.sharetheexperience.org).
There are no live dinosaurs today at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, but there are other surprises. For most of its length, the Ruple Point Trail crosses a rolling terrain filled with sagebrush and juniper. Near the end of the trail, a short descent suddenly reveals breathtaking views of Split Mountain Canyon and the Green River 2,500 feet below. It’s a great reward at the halfway point of this 9.5 mile hike. Take plenty of water! Photo by National Park Service.
On the one mile Yahoo Falls loop trail at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area in Kentucky, visitors can actually walk behind the waterfalls as they plunge 113 feet over the large rock shelf. In the deep forest, passing from sun to shade with the roar of the water in your ears and the spray of mist on your skin, it’s an adventure for all your senses. It’s just one of the many spectacular outdoor experiences you can have in this wonderful 125,000-acre park. Photo by Tom Wood (www.sharetheexperience.org).
A stunning variety of landscapes await you at Zion National Park in Utah. Under a deep blue sky, colorful sandstone cliffs transition the high desert to forested mesas and deep canyons filled with life. The Virgin River, often sedate but sometimes violent, runs through the park and hiking through the Narrows is a highlight for many visitors. Photo by R.J. Hooper (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri is the first national park area to protect a river system. The Current and Jacks Fork Rivers – the beating heart of the park – are two of the finest floating rivers you’ll find anywhere. Spring-fed, cold and clear they are a delight to canoe, swim, boat or fish. The watershed also quenches the thirst of lush forests and grasslands, making it the perfect place for a spring hike. Photo by Pamela Reid (www.sharetheexperience.org).