How to Find the Best Backpacking Destinations for 2024

As an avid backpacker, I’m constantly on the hunt for new and exciting destinations to explore in 2024. The thrill of discovering untamed wilderness, immersing myself in breathtaking landscapes, and challenging my physical and mental limits is what fuels my passion for this incredible pursuit.

However, with countless options available, choosing the perfect backpacking destination can be a daunting task. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share my tried-and-true strategies for researching, evaluating, and selecting the best backpacking destinations to suit your preferences, skill level, and sense of adventure.

Setting Your Priorities

Before diving into the world of potential backpacking destinations, it’s essential to define your priorities and preferences. Ask yourself the following questions:

What type of terrain do you prefer?
Are you drawn to rugged mountain ranges, lush forests, or desert landscapes? Identifying your preferred terrain will help narrow your search and ensure a more enjoyable experience.

What level of difficulty are you seeking?
Do you thrive on strenuous challenges, or do you prefer more leisurely hikes? Consider your physical fitness level and the amount of elevation gain or technical terrain you’re comfortable navigating.

What time of year are you planning to go?
Different destinations may have specific seasons when conditions are more favorable for backpacking. Factor in weather patterns, potential for snow or rain, and the availability of water sources.

What kind of scenery and wildlife appeal to you?
Are you drawn to iconic vistas, lush meadows, or the chance to spot specific wildlife? Understanding your preferences will help you find destinations that align with your desired experiences.

Researching Potential Destinations

With your priorities in mind, it’s time to begin researching potential backpacking destinations. Here are some valuable resources to consider:

Guidebooks and Hiking Blogs
Invest in comprehensive guidebooks or consult reputable hiking blogs for in-depth information on various trails and destinations. These resources often provide detailed descriptions, difficulty ratings, and insider tips from experienced hikers.

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Online Forums and Communities
Engage with online backpacking forums and communities, where fellow enthusiasts share their experiences, recommendations, and insights. These platforms can be a wealth of knowledge and offer firsthand accounts of lesser-known destinations.

National Park and Land Management Websites
Official websites for national parks, national forests, and other public lands are invaluable sources of information. Here, you can find trail maps, regulations, permit requirements, and updates on current conditions.

Local Outdoor Retailers and Organizations
Don’t underestimate the value of local outdoor retailers and hiking organizations. They often have extensive knowledge of nearby trails and can provide insider tips on hidden gems or lesser-known destinations.

Evaluating Destinations

Once you’ve compiled a list of potential backpacking destinations, it’s time to evaluate each one more thoroughly. Consider the following factors:

Trail Logistics
Research the logistics of the trail, including the total distance, elevation gain/loss, and the availability of water sources or resupply points. Ensure these align with your physical capabilities and the duration of your planned trip.

Permit Requirements and Regulations
Some destinations may require permits or have specific regulations in place. Familiarize yourself with these requirements and plan accordingly to ensure you’re prepared and following all necessary guidelines.

Crowd Levels and Solitude
If you’re seeking solitude and a more remote experience, investigate the popularity of each destination and the likelihood of encountering crowds during your desired timeframe.

Accessibility and Transportation
Consider the ease of access to the trailhead and any transportation needs, such as flights or rental cars. Factor in the cost and logistics of reaching your desired destination.

Planning and Preparation

Once you’ve selected your backpacking destination for 2024, it’s time to dive into the planning and preparation phase:

Obtain Necessary Permits and Reservations
Secure any required permits or campsite reservations well in advance, as popular destinations can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons.

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Study Maps and Trail Guides
Thoroughly study detailed maps and trail guides for your chosen destination. Familiarize yourself with the terrain, potential hazards, and points of interest along the route.

Gather Essential Gear
Ensure you have all the necessary gear and supplies for your specific destination, taking into account factors like weather conditions, terrain, and the duration of your trip.

Develop an Itinerary and Emergency Plan
Create a detailed itinerary, including estimated mileage and elevation changes for each day. Additionally, develop an emergency plan and share it with trusted contacts before your departure.

Alternative Options

Even with thorough research and planning, unexpected circumstances may arise that require you to consider alternative backpacking destinations. Here are some strategies for finding suitable alternatives:

Seasonal Flexibility
If your original destination is unsuitable due to weather conditions or seasonal closures, consider locations that offer more favorable conditions during the same timeframe.

Proximity and Accessibility
If logistical challenges or travel restrictions make your initial destination inaccessible, explore nearby options that are more easily accessible or require less travel time.

Adjust Difficulty Level
If the planned trail proves too challenging or too easy, look for destinations that better align with your desired difficulty level and physical capabilities.

Local Resources and Recommendations
Tap into local resources, such as park rangers, outdoor retailers, or hiking clubs in the area, for recommendations on alternative destinations that may suit your needs.


Q: How far in advance should I start researching and planning for a backpacking trip in 2024?
A: It’s generally advisable to begin your research and planning process at least 6-12 months in advance, especially for popular destinations or those requiring permits or reservations. This will give you ample time to gather information, secure necessary permits, and adequately prepare for your trip.

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Q: How can I determine the difficulty level of a backpacking destination?
A: Evaluate the total distance, elevation gain/loss, terrain type, and potential hazards or technical challenges. Additionally, consult guidebooks, hiking blogs, and online forums for firsthand accounts of the trail’s difficulty from experienced backpackers.

Q: What should I do if my desired backpacking destination is fully booked or closed during my planned timeframe?
A: Be prepared to have alternative destinations in mind or consider adjusting your travel dates if possible. You can also explore nearby areas or consult local resources for recommendations on lesser-known trails or alternative routes.

Q: How important is it to obtain permits or reservations for backpacking destinations?
A: The importance of permits and reservations varies depending on the destination. Some areas strictly require them to control crowd levels and protect the environment, while others may have more relaxed policies. Always research the specific requirements for your chosen destination and plan accordingly.

Q: What are some factors to consider when evaluating the scenery and wildlife opportunities of a backpacking destination?
A: Consider the geographic location, ecosystem type, and elevation ranges of the area. Research the types of landscapes, flora, and fauna you’re likely to encounter. Additionally, consult guidebooks or online resources for information on specific viewpoints, wildlife hotspots, or peak seasons for certain natural phenomena.


Finding the best backpacking destinations for 2024 requires a combination of research, evaluation, and careful planning. By defining your priorities, exploring various resources, and considering factors like terrain, difficulty, and logistics, you can uncover hidden gems and create unforgettable adventures.

Remember, the journey itself is often just as rewarding as the destination, so embrace the thrill of discovery and be prepared to adapt to unexpected circumstances. With the right mindset and preparation, you’ll be ready to embark on life-changing backpacking experiences that will leave you yearning for more in the years to come.

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