Backpacking gives you the opportunity to experience nature and the environment in an incredibly intimate way, while also getting away from the mundane of everyday life.
It’s also a great way to get out and actually see the world away from major urban areas and cities, visiting some of the most well-known features and locations that you’ve only read about or seen pictures of.
While most every country on earth contains some incredible backpacking routes, these five backpacking destinations, in particular, are widely considered to offer the very best sights and experiences you’ll ever encounter in your life.
1. Kungsleden – Lapland, Sweden
Total Length: 275 miles, 2+ weeks, several stages easily can be done on their own, or as one big trip.
Best Time to Go: Early September, as August presents an abundance of travelers.
Located approximately 100 miles inside the Arctic Circle lies the world-famous Kungsleden. Swedish for “The King’s Trail,” Kungsleden comprises what is essentially the last great wilderness left in all of western Europe, sprawling out for over 275 miles of incredibly scenic views and experiences.
There are several different stages available, with plenty to offer on each. Regardless of the route you take, you are sure to encounter wildlife such as lemmings and even reindeer, while seeing an abundance of valleys, rivers, cliffs, forests, and more.
The diversity is truly astounding, and some of the areas include bridges and paths to make your trek easier.
An added bonus of the Kungsleden is the vast amount of huts available in 21 different spots, sparing you the use of a tent when the opportunity presents itself.
The northernmost sections of the Kungsleden will see you through a vast and diversified Arctic landscape consisting of birch forests, open tundra, and giant glaciers, all before crossing the shoulder of the 6,926-foot Mount Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest peak.
2. Grand Canyon – Arizona, USA
Total Length: 44 miles rim to rim, 4 to 6 days.
When to Go: September-October and April-May are popular times, but going in March or November can help you avoid crowds.
One of the most important and grandest natural phenomenons on the earth, the Grand Canyon offers a wide range of sights, sounds, and experiences that will remain with you forever.
Yes, taking a drive to an overlook location is definitely an incredible sight, it’s a whole different world once you are down in it.
Multiple levels and layers give way to a first-hand look into millions of years of geological development. The inside of the canyon often contains its own weather system, which is often forgiving, although majestic views of fog can be found in the mornings at times.
There are plenty of camps along the way and plenty of time-tested trails that will guide you through some unparalleled scenery. Come down on the South Rim of the canyon via South Kaibab Trail.
This leads to a crossing over the Colorado River on the Black Bridge and right to camp at Bright Angel camp. From there, you have numerous options depending on your allotted time and rations.
3. Tour du Mont Blanc – France, Italy, Switzerland
Total Length: 105 miles, 7 to 11 days.
When to Go: July to September.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is widely known throughout the world, and is perhaps the most popular of trips in all of Europe, taking you through France, Italy, and Switzerland in one pass.
The trail loop circles around Mont Blanc, the highest peak in all of the Alps. This trip gives you a way to experience the Alps and view Mont Blanc up close without undertaking an ascent on the peak itself.
The path will take you past breathtaking views of valleys, cliffs, glaciers, and exposed rock, among other things. While the overall distance on each leg is lower than others, the numerous ascents and descents can be fairly strenuous on your body.
Camping is certainly permitted on the Tour du Mont Blanc, but there are several villages along the way that will provide accommodations and incredible cultural experiences.
There is a main path on the TMB, but travelers can opt to take different routes for a more unique experience.
4. Yosemite National Park – California, USA
Total Length: Varies
When to Go: July to September
Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is considered one of the utopias of backpacking on this planet, offering just about every kind of experience you could want, and all in one of the most historic and beautiful locations you’ll ever see.
Majestic granite peaks rise above and around you as you navigate your way around valleys, crystal-clear rivers, and meadows, while also encountering secluded waterfalls and basins.
The choices for your route are endless, with each offering its own unique sights along the way.
The Post Peak Pass to Tuolumne Meadows route provides you with views of the Minarets and other landmark Sierra Nevada peaks, eventually following along the Merced River.
This leads to the iconic John Muir Trail for an amazing finish in the Cathedral Range.
5. Mt. Everest Base Camp (Lukla to Base Camp) – Nepal
Length: 70 miles, 14 to 16 days.
When to Go: March-April for pre-monsoon season, November for a drier post-monsoon season.
No, you’re not going to be ascending the tallest peak in the world on this trip, but you’ll see it up close, along with other peaks and experiences.
The Himalayas are the most famous mountain range on earth, containing an unmatched beauty and life-changing experience.
The journey from Lukla to the actual Everest base camp will provide you with a full immersion into the Himalayas, while also offering views of Everest, Lhotse, and Lhotse Sar in one fell swoop.
Your journey will include a seasoned local guide, who will ensure that your route and pace work synergistically to give you the best experience for your group.
While two weeks may seem long for 70 miles, the high altitude can be tough and takes its toll.
It’s always better to take things slow and easy, not just for safety, but to fully savor the cultural experiences of the many friendly locals you’ll meet along the way in the villages.