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From epic hikes to some of the world's best rafting, any one of these trips promises the adventure of a lifetime

Top 26 wilderness experiences

From luxury tent-camping to glacier hiking, here are the best ways to have fun in the Western wilderness

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3 more places to soak up nature
Photo by Wally Pacholka; written by Steve Casimiro and Peter Fish

3 more places to soak up nature

• See the Milky Way. The blackest night reveals the brightest stars, and no place is better for reconnecting to your ancestral awe of the heavens than Natural Bridges National Monument (pictured; $6 per vehicle; bit.ly/gMWSiJ), in southeastern Utah. It’s the world’s first dark-sky park—so great summer stargazing is almost guaranteed. Camping $10. 

• Let the tide guide the day. Firs behind, sea stacks ahead, Oregon’s Harris Beach State Park (bit.ly/mCwNH) is in the state’s temperate “banana belt,” so you can dip your toes for a salty Pacific pedicure any time of year. Camping from $22. 

• Swim in the perfect mountain lake. Yes, it really is shaped like a heart—and this tiny pool will steal yours. Scramble 3/4 mile to float in the crystal water of Northern California’s Heart Lake (bit.ly/ftljML) and gaze at Mt. Shasta from this little lake with a big view. Castle Lake Campground; no fee; bit.ly/hqODl0

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