Find your next Scenic Drive a different road trip awaits

Expand Your Horizons: Hiking for Beginners

You finally have that road trip, weekend getaway, or day trip planned. The great outdoors awaits — but to truly experience nature’s beauty, try getting off the beaten path. We’re thankful that most parks and forests make it easy to visit their main attractions, mountain views, waterfalls, cool rock formations, unique trees, geysers, and more — usually with a short walk from parking areas. But hike just a half mile further and a whole new perspective emerges. If you can hike even further, all the better. It will open your heart, your mind, allowing you to enjoy, contemplate, and connect with nature. It will change you.

Start S(low)

Never hiked before? Not sure of your fitness ability? Or hiking with kids or seniors? We suggest starting on a trail with little or no elevation (under 300-foot) gain, along a riverside, or even a paved walking path. Most park and forest websites describe their trails — and note length and elevation or ask friends for recommendations. We know there are a lot of solo hikers out there, but we suggest always hiking with a buddy. Or join a guided hiking group. And remember, there is no pressure to finish a hike. Feel free to stop, enjoy your picnic and soak in the views before getting to the “end”. Turn around at any time that feels comfortable for you.

What Equipment Do I Need?

Start with slip resistant running shoes, sneakers, or hiking shoes. They don’t have to be expensive, just comfortable. If you’re not steady on your feet, or need to stop often, you may want to consider hiking poles to lean on. Then, just a backpack and reusable water bottle.

Before You Go

  • Check weather and trail conditions before heading out. Do not underestimate the weather’s impact on your day on the trails. Dress in layers so you can adjust depending on heat or cold.
  • Check if a state or federal pass is required where you’re hiking.
  • If you’re hiking at well-known busy trails with limited parking, start out early.
  • Let someone know what your plans are. Where will you be hiking, and what is your estimated return time. Don’t forget to let them know you’re back.
  • Bring the 10 hiking essentials, even for an easy, day hike. This may sound extreme, but being prepared makes all the difference.
    1. Hydration: Bring ample water and drink regularly throughout the hike. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
    2. Nutrition: Pack your lunch and a few extra snacks that last longer (just in case), such as granola bars, nuts, etc.
    3. Navigation: Bring a map, or compass and/or GPS unit. Do not rely solely on your phone. Your battery may die, or you may be out of range for cell service.
    4. Sun Protection: Wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, even on days that don’t seem sunny.
    5. Layers: Warm temperature at lower elevations can change drastically as you climb higher. Or the weather may change suddenly. We recommend bringing an extra sweater or jacket, and depending on where and in what season you’re hiking — gloves and hat.
    6. Illumination: Bring a flashlight, lantern, or headlamp. It may get dark earlier than you think and your hike may not be finished. And pack extra batteries. Don’t rely on your phone flashlight as battery may die.
    7. Matches (waterproof): Though you must be careful if using, a fire can be helpful if you’re stranded overnight for heat, or a signal to rescuers.
    8. First Aid Kit: Pack some bandages, dressing pads, gauze, tape, tweezers, scissors, antiseptic cream, and disposable gloves, or get a pre-made kit.
    9. Pocket Multi-Tool Knife or Tool Kit
    10. Shelter: Pack a light tarp or even a garbage bag to protect you from wind or rain in emergency situations. A bivy sack, or emergency space blanket are also good lightweight options.

Trail Etiquette

  • Hikers going up have the right of way. Move over to let them pass if space is tight.
  • Many hikers are here to immerse in the sounds of nature: birds chirping, wind in the trees etc. If you listen to music while you hike/walk, please use earbuds or headphones to not frighten wildlife (or annoy anyone).
  • Do not litter! Not even something natural like an orange peel. Take your trash home. Leave no trace.
  • Don’t veer off the trails. Wildflowers, ground cover, plants, and trees take years to grow. Walking on them can damage ecosystems to the point where they cannot recover.

Low-Elevation Hikes Deliver Big

Vermont 100
CALIFORNIA: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Wildflowers, cacti, desert shrubs and wildlife
Arizona Red Rocks
CALIFORNIA: Pinnacles National Park
Scrubby brush chaparral and cool rock formations
Vermont 100
COLORADO: Red Rocks Amphitheater and Park
Other-worldly red sandstone ledges
Arizona Red Rocks
FLORIDA: Anne Kolb Nature Center
Oh yes, boardwalks and observation towers count
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Gift Memories that Last Forever

It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is almost here!

Inspire adventure and make it easy for your loved ones to get outdoors with an America the Beautiful Pass. Or treat yourself.

America the Beautiful National Park Annual Passes are the perfect gift for outdoor lovers, hikers, and budding adventurers, offering 1-year unlimited access to over 2,000 parks managed by the National Park Service (NPS), USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).

No name is associated with the pass when we ship. The owner signs the back when they receive it, and the pass can have 2 owners. That means it is valid for the two people who sign the back. Each of those 2 people can use it for everyone in one car — whether the other person is there or not. (note you do not have to designate a 2nd owner, it is just an option).

We can ship it to you — or directly to the recipient. We’re happy to include a FREE card with your personal greeting. Simply use our “SEND AS GIFT” button to type your message.

Your Exclusive Offer

SAVE $4.99! Enjoy $5 First Class USPS shipping when you order an America the Beautiful Annual Pass from now until December 6, 2021 using this link.

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Happy holidays and all the best for 2022!

Thank you!

We’re beyond thrilled to be part of your outdoor adventures. Our very best wishes from our family to yours for a happy and safe holiday season.