National parks, ATV destinations, hikes galore, and more!

Kayaks and tent at Lake Sonoma, California

Thomas J. Story

We get it, you’ve been inside for a long time. Like, a long time. So, it’s understandable if you’re searching for ways to get outdoors. Hiking, walking, biking, moving—anything. Spring break just so happens to be the perfect time to do just that. 

Here at Sunset, we look forward to travel for just about any reason, so we are wanderlusting right along with you. Whether it’s checking another national park off our bucket lists, pitching a tent somewhere that isn’t our backyards, or canyon bathing—yes, you read that right, canyon bathing—we’re ready to get out there again this spring. 

We gathered up a few of the destinations across the West that we’ve been dreaming about visiting—whether you’ve got a week or you’re just looking for an overnight trip. Below, you’ll find a few classics, some unexpected towns, and a bunch of activity options for every adrenaline level and adventure-inclined interest of an “outdoorsy type.” 

We consider both camping and glamping in this category, not to mention hot springs and outdoor spas. (Think body clay wraps next to a bubbling creek.) You don’t have to be a rock climber to find something special on this list, though we’ve got that, too. It’s never been a better time to stargaze, fish, off-road, via ferrata, and more. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore this vast and varied landscape that we call home. 

For even more inspiration, check out our latest travel coverage from across the West.

Alaska

Denali National Park & Preserve

Denali National Park & Preserve scene with moose

Courtesy of Aramark

Alaska’s Denali National Park & Preserve claims the tallest peak in North America—”the Mountain.” Hikers can go off-trail in this park, but make sure you heed local warnings (and wildlife).

Arizona

Morristown

Castle Hot Springs Arizona desert view

Thomas J. Story

Pair outdoor experiences with modern luxury at Castle Hot Springs resort. For those who can afford an escape to such an oasis, a wellness getaway can quite literally be whatever you need. Spa treatments can be traditional, such as a tourmaline clay wrap in a creekside cabana, or totally touchless—think via ferrata climbs and meditative hikes meant to target stress and fatigue.

California

Joshua Tree

SoCal Desert Stunners at Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Joshua Tree National Park

Peter Carroll/Getty Images

AutoCamp Joshua Tree just opened, and there are plenty of local alternatives for camping outside the park. You’ll discover an otherworldly oasis of boulders, yuccas, and, of course, the iconic Joshua trees. Grab dinner at La Copine, and stop in to try the high desert’s newest bar, The Tiny Pony. There are plenty of other pit stops along the way.

Palm Springs

Two Bunch Palms pool - mineral hot springs resort and spa in Desert Hot Springs, California
Two Bunch Palms hot springs resort and spa

Stephanie Pia

Palm Springs is the ideal destination for a split group—some want to hike, some want to relax by the pool, some want to eat and drink their way through the week. Stock up on beer and wine at Dead or Alive bar and shop, mosey through the palm oases and myriad trails at Indian Canyons, and grab a vegan sandwich at Chef Tanya’s Kitchen.

Colorado

Colorado Springs

Kinship Landing's Camp Deck in Colorado Springs
Kinship Landing’s Camp Deck in Colorado Springs

Sam Starr Media

First time camping but really want to have a go at it? New hotel Kinship Landing will teach you how to camp from the ground up before sending you on your adventurous way. You’ll be taught how to pitch a tent, make a bonfire, roast s’mores on that fire, and more. Then you’ll head out to a nearby campsite—yes, in the actual outdoors—to test out your newfound skills.

Nevada

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

This national forest is one of the most popular destination for RVers, and for good reason. As national parks get crowded at the same speed that the weather gets nicer, consider nearby alternatives like this one—or the many national forests the West has to offer.

New Mexico

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Park Hikers
White Sands National Monument

Mint Images

National Geographic lauded this 275-square-mile expanse of pure white sand in the Chihuahuan Desert due to its accommodations for people with disabilities. Everyone, including people who use wheelchairs, can explore the 8-mile one-way Dunes Drive, and the quarter-mile Interdune Boardwalk.

Oregon

Bend

Wanderlust Tours, Bend, Oregon (Courtesy of Wanderlust Tours)
Wanderlust Tours in Bend

Courtesy of Wanderlust Tours

Bend is well-known as an outdoorsy haven, but did you know it’s also one of the top 10 destinations for ATVing? The off-road options are endless, but make sure to note local rules and regulations before you rev that engine. If you’re more into the exploring this emerging foodie destination, kick it old-school at Deschutes Brewery or see what all the cool kids are talking about at Boss Rambler Beer Club. Don’t forget a stop for a pale ale at Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.

Hood River

Hood River, Oregon - Lake on Mount Hood

Visit Hood River

Head an hour east of Portland and you’ll find Hood River, with water activities galore, from boarding to canoeing to kayaking and beyond. After a full day of biking, hiking, and rowing, leave time for tasting at the taprooms and wineries nearby. We’re partial to Analemma WinesHiyu, and Savage Grace.

Oregon Coast

Coastline near Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest

J.D. Simkins

Head up Highway 101 for bivalves at JAndy Oyster Co. in Tillamook, and stop along the way for a short hike. “If you’re looking for fresh crab, it doesn’t get any better” than Kelly’s Brighton Marina right off Nehalem Bay, where you can hop in the boat to crab yourself, says chef Maylin Chavez, who gave us her inside tips for a trip. From there, head to The Salmonberry restaurant in Wheeler. End your journey in Astoria, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and spirits flow at Blaylock’s Whiskey Bar.

Utah

Bears Ears

House on Fire in Bears Ears National Monument.

George Frey/Getty Images

This 1.35 million-acre national monument plays host to all manner of outdoor enthusiasts. You can hike, bike, or do some canyoneering. Take a raft down the San Juan River, or take in world-class rock climbing.

Canyon Country

Zion Virgin River
Zion’s Virgin River winding its way towards The Watchman at sunset.

J.D. Simkins

What if we told you there’s a city in Utah that’s within a few hours’ drive of a dozen of the state’s most beautiful natural wonders, and smack dab in the middle of not one, not two, but four national parks? Located just a half-hour from the east entrance of Zion National Park and just under 90 minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park, Kanab is the ideal basecamp to explore Utah’s Canyon Country. Of course, there are plenty new glamping options coming online this year, too.

Washington

Olympic National Park

Woman hiking outdoors in Olympic National Park

Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

With so many folks flocking to popular national parks, our favorites this year are on roads less traveled. Olympic National Park’s old-growth rainforests and coastline offer a peaceful respite.

Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park

Thomas J. Story

There are plenty of new lodging options to check out, whether you’re a camper, spa-goer, and everything in between. If you’re planning to camp, be sure to score a campsite early; here’s how to book, along with some of our favorite spots.

Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Westend61/Getty Images

“The Grand Teton mountain range springs up from the earth and towers over pristine lakes and rivers,” says Stephanie Housley, the designer behind Coral & Tusk textiles who shared with us top picks for a weekend getaway in Wyoming. “You can hike to a glacial lake or spend time oohing and ahhing over the peaks from the valley floor. With over 200 miles of trails and the Snake River flowing through Grand Teton National Park, there is so much to see and do.”