pring is here and if you haven’t dusted off your hiking shoes you better have a good excuse-like a broken leg or recent ACL surgery. The whole season is spread out before you for walking out into the showy extravagance of nature, and here are the best places in America to do that in one day.
1. Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah
Of course you’ve heard of Angels Landing in Zion, and The Narrows, and maybe The Subway. This one is a little longer than Angels Landing (8 miles RT), a little more strenuous, and gives a view of Zion Canyon from above-you’re actually looking down on Angels Landing, if you can wrap your head around that.2. Muir Snowfield, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Nothing in the U.S. quite compares to the massive seracs, avalanches, and rockfall on Mount Rainier-but you don’t have to climb the whole thing to get a taste. Mid-summer, you can hike up the Muir Snowfield from Paradise and watch the mountain come alive on your way up to Camp Muir with just a pair of waterproof boots and a pair of trekking poles.3. Upper Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
We all know that the only true way to experience the magic of Yosemite is to hike up the Half Dome cables route, right? Okay, that’s not true. Also, it’s a little tough to get a permit these days. For a much-less-crowded but just as amazing day, the hike to Upper Yosemite Falls will crush your quads on your way up to a panoramic view of the Valley.4. Kalaulau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
When people say “Hawaii” and “hiking” in the same sentence, they usually also say “Na Pali Coast,” and for good reason. Walking the 11-mile Kalaulau Trail is the only way to see this section of rugged island coastline. It’s an out-and-back 22-mile backpacking trip with a permit, or, as of 2012 you can dayhike the first six miles to the lush, hanging Hanakoa Valley without a permit.5. Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona
The tough news is that you can’t see Upper Antelope Canyon without a paid guide for at least $30 per person, and then you’re only in the canyon for about an hour, and you only walk about a half mile. The good news is you’ve seen a billion photos of the trippy, wavy sandstone walls in the canyon, and they never look the same twice, depending on what time of day and what time of year you’re there. The even better news is that this is one of the only places on earth that looks better through your point-and-shoot camera than it does when you’re standing in it, even if you’re the most amateur of photographers.