12 Adventures You Need to Have in 2017
The world won’t give you an invitation, but we’ll do the next best thing with life-list picks. Now clear a spot on the 2017 calendar and fill it with one of these grand trips.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
Just head to southern Utah's Escalante region and explore the sculpted sandstone playground along Hole-in-the-Rock Road. From a basecamp along the dirt road (primitive car-camping available; BYO water), spend a few days hiking the area's legendary slot canyons.
Try Red Breaks canyon (takes all day) and a loop connecting Spooky and Peek-a-boo slots (shorter). It's 13 miles down to the Escalante River, so allow three to four days to explore the canyon's arches, amphitheaters, and rock art. Season Spring and fall; beware of flash floods.
Long Range Traverse, Gros Morne National Park, Canada
Newfoundland is only a three-hour flight from New York, but the scenery will make you feel like you spent a lot more time in the air. From the sheer-walled fjord of Western Brook Pond to the vast tundra of the Long Range Mountains, Gros Morne serves up one of North America's biggest backcountry prizes: a 26-mile, off-trail adventure that's so challenging (due to remoteness and fickle weather), the park requires a mandatory orientation before you start hiking. Start the route with a one-hour boat ride beneath 2,000-foot cliffs up Western Brook Pond. Tip: On the first day, skip the tent platforms at Little Island Pond and target Marks Pond (mile 7.1) for a more tranquil campsite.
An Teallach Traverse, Scotland
The 12-mile route crosses open grassland before gaining a rocky, horseshoe-shaped ridge punctuated by two Munros (peaks over 3,000 feet). But the summits are just icing; the real prize is the knife-edge traverse, which you might want to literally straddle at some points.
Take a rest on Lord Berkeley's Seat, a rock throne with peak-and-water views that drop away hundreds of feet. Combine the big day with a long-distance hike on the West Highland Way (moderate) or Cape Wrath Trail (hard).
Huayhuash Circuit, Peru
Your Scouts: Dan and Janine Patitucci, adventure photographers based in Switzerland, dreamed of hiking the Huayhuash Circuit for years. " With six peaks taller than 19,000 feet, the Cordillera Huayhuash should be on any list of the world's great ranges. Most of the 11-day Huayhuash trek is above 13,000 feet, with views of fluted mountains rising above green hills and blue lakes. The following days are filled with more passes, lakeside campsites, and peaks (including Peru's second-highest mountain, 21,709-foot Yerupajá), as well as occasional small villages where Quechua-speaking locals farm and raise livestock in the thin air. The combination of scenery and culture makes this a lot like trekking in Nepal," says photographer Dan Patitucci. Your guide will arrange transport from there to Llamac and the trailhead.
Jungfrau Region, Switzerland
Glacier-rich mountains, well-signed and well-kept trails, and cozy huts: This three-day route from Grindelwald to Kandersteg serves up the quintessential Alps experience. Each day is about 12 miles, but with lots of elevation change you'll be glad to have a light pack (no camping gear required).
Tour du Mont Blanc, France/Switzerland/Italy
Fast hikers can do the 110-mile route in a week, but allow at least 10 days and you won't regret a single hour. You can tent-camp or sleep in hostels, but we recommend treating yourself to the more luxe B&Bs where fondue and grappa (and beds) await. Start in Les Houches, France, and hike counterclockwise to save the best views of Mt. Blanc for the end.
Dientes Trek, Isla Navarino, Chile
Make your way to this Patagonian island, one stop north of Antarctica. Get to Puerto Williams, Chile, by boat or plane, and hike a five-day (roughly 35-mile) route into the Dientes (Teeth) de Navarino. You'll climb into the alpine tundra and camp beside lakes that sit below castle-like towers of rock (top spots: Del Salto, Escondida, Martillo, and Laguna Las Guanacos). This is raw Patagonia: Come prepared to deal with weather and navigation challenges (the route is mostly marked with cairns, but low visibility can set in any time).
Overland Track, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Tasmania
Think of this as the John Muir Trail of Australia: Permits are in high demand, and with good reason. The route takes most hikers six days, but like the JMT, you get a start date and can go as fast or slow as you'd like (huts are basic and first-come, first-serve; pack a good tent and plan on using it). Tip: Permits are required only during the best hiking season (October 1 through May 31).
Five Passes Route, Mt. Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, New Zealand
But when you're ready to experience New Zealand's backcountry the way it was before huts were even a concept, tackle this 40-mile route. Plan at least five days for the mostly off-trail hike, crossing Fohn Saddle, Fiery Col, Cow Saddle, Parks Pass, and Sugarloaf Pass. But the reward is a side of New Zealand that even locals rarely see.
Lofoten Archipelago, Norway
The country's "freedom to roam" law allows you to hike and camp basically anywhere that's not right next to someone's house. Best plan: Rent a car and link the following trips. Reinebringen: a short, steep dayhike with sea-to-summit views close to where the ferry drops you off in Moskenesoya (consider camping on top to savor the vista). Kvalvika Beach: Target the more secluded southern section of this hike-in coast; reach it via a little rock scrambling aided by fixed chains and rungs.
Tararua Peaks Traverse, New Zealand
"The track across the Tararua 'tops' is like a catwalk across the sky," says photographer Matt Hage. " The ridge drops a thousand feet away on each side." Add the primal beech forests, the Kiwi-style aid (a hanging ladder), and the cozy huts, and you have a New Zealand classic that only New Zealanders know about. " Keep in mind that the exposure is not for the faint-hearted, and the area is plagued by bad weather, so allow time to target clear skies. Connect the Kime, Anderson Memorial, and Waitewaewae Huts to make a 29-mile loop.
Amphu Lapcha Pass, Nepal
The three-week trek starts in bustling Lukla, but you head east while the Everest crowds go west. After two days, you’ll join the Mera Peak Trail and continue for a week through forested valleys and increasingly alpine terrain (expect to see a few more people on this section).