Escape the rat-race with long-distance hiking

In 2018, I hiked more than 1,500 km (930miles) of long-distance trails in 3 countries in less than 6 months.
When I announced this plan to my family and friends, most of them could not fathom why I would want to do such a thing – especially since many people struggle to meet the 10,000 steps/day recommended for improved health. Admittedly, most of my loved ones are not hikers, but even my more outdoorsy friends raised an eyebrow at the idea.
Everyone was familiar with the fact that I’d done a few long-distance treks previously. They knew I’d traveled to Chilean Patagonia in 2015 to tick the 8-day Torres del Paine Circuit off my bucket list. They’d heard all about my 10 days above 4200m on the Huayhuash Circuit Trek in Peru, and how that had pipped Antarctica for best experience of 2016. They had listened to me wax lyrically about the 12-day Unplugged Wilderness trek in East Greenland in 2017 – my #1 activity for that year. They could not believe the stories from the 8-day Southern Pata..

In 2018, I hiked more than 1,500 km (930miles) of long-distance trails in 3 countries in less than 6 months.

When I announced this plan to my family and friends, most of them could not fathom why I would want to do such a thing – especially since many people struggle to meet the 10,000 steps/day recommended for improved health. Admittedly, most of my loved ones are not hikers, but even my more outdoorsy friends raised an eyebrow at the idea.

Everyone was familiar with the fact that I’d done a few long-distance treks previously. They knew I’d traveled to Chilean Patagonia in 2015 to tick the 8-day Torres del Paine Circuit off my bucket list. They’d heard all about my 10 days above 4200m on the Huayhuash Circuit Trek in Peru, and how that had pipped Antarctica for best experience of 2016. They had listened to me wax lyrically about the 12-day Unplugged Wilderness trek in East Greenland in 2017 – my #1 activity for that year. They could not believe the stories from the 8-day Southern Patagonia Icefield Expedition in Argentina at the start of 2018 – by far the most challenging hike I’ve done.

Unplugged wilderness in East Greenland
Unplugged wilderness in East Greenland
Contemplating high altitude silence on Huayhuash circuit Peru
Contemplating high altitude silence on Huayhuash circuit Peru

And although they could appreciate (from their arm-chair) the beautiful places I’d seen, the questions they kept asking me were: “Why put yourself through that? Why not just stick with day-hikes?”

Don’t get me wrong. I love day hikes, and I’ve done too many of them to count over the past 3 years of full-time travel. But for me, long-distance trekking offers something much more powerful and essential in our fast-paced world.

It offers a true escape.

Chilling in Hornstrandir Iceland
Chilling in Hornstrandir Iceland
Only me and Russell Glacier for the whole day Kangerlussuaq West Greenland
Only me and Russell Glacier for the whole day Kangerlussuaq West Greenland

Escape from digital connection

No devices only paper maps
No devices only paper maps
Open air restaurant iceland
Open air restaurant iceland

Day hikes are necessarily located close to towns or cities. This (usually) means that you have cell phone reception throughout the hike, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen hikers on their phones while half-way up a mountain. In our hyper-connected world, it takes a lot of willpower to leave the phone at home, something that is made even more difficult as the device does double-duty as a camera for many people.

Multi-day hikes can force you to unplug as they have the potential to take you beyond the reach of cell phone coverage. Although it does depend on where you are, there are still plenty of places in the world where you can escape the constant pings of modern life. And after a day of uselessly checking your now-silent phone, you start to let go of the stresses in your “real life” and truly relax in the embrace of nature.

I know of no better stress reduction technique.

Unplug with a good book
Unplug with a good book
Better than television watching icebergs in Tiniteqilaaq East Greenland
Better than television watching icebergs in Tiniteqilaaq East Greenland

Escape from decision fatigue

Truly remote Nasaasaaq Mountain West Greenland
Truly remote Nasaasaaq Mountain West Greenland
Wake up to this view huayhuash circuit peru
Wake up to this view huayhuash circuit peru

In a modern world with seemingly infinite choice, decision fatigue is a reality. When the supposedly simple act of ordering a cup of coffee from your local barista requires you to choose from 3 different sizes, at least 5 different styles of preparation, 4 different types of milk and whether you want to add sugar or another sweetener (or not), is there really any wonder that we sometimes feel like a deer caught in the headlights – paralyzed by the plethora of options put before us?

While day hikes allow you to escape this world of choice for a few hours, long-distance hiking really gives you a break from making decisions. This reduces the level of the hormone cortisol coursing through your bloodstream, again lowering stress levels.

Foraging for wild blueberries arctic circle trail West Greenland
Foraging for wild blueberries arctic circle trail West Greenland
Staple breakfast for me on the trail with added wild blueberries from West Greenland
Staple breakfast for me on the trail with added wild blueberries from West Greenland

What to wear? Probably exactly the same thing as yesterday given it’s not that dirty and will just get sweaty again anyway. What to eat? Hmmm… well, I only packed porridge for breakfast, so I guess I’ll be eating that.

Given the limited space in your backpack, you’ve already made most of the decisions for your trek while deciding what to bring with you. The choices that remain (whether to add or remove layers of clothing, whether to take a side trip up that interesting looking hill, whether to remove your shoes to cross the river) are limited questions that can be usually answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. When you boil it down, the only complicated decisions left to make while out on your multi-day hike are when and where to stop and pitch your tent at the end of the day. And if you are doing a hut-to-hut hike, even those decisions are already taken care of!

Escape from societal expectations

Wild camp arctic circle trail West Greenland
Wild camp arctic circle trail West Greenland
Tent view arctic circle trail West Greenland
Tent view arctic circle trail West Greenland

“There are no showers?” “You wear the same clothes for days on end?” “You went to bed at 7:30pm?” These are some of the common exclamations I hear when I talk about my long-distance trekking experiences.

One of the beautiful things about even the simplest multi-day hike is that you can escape the pressure to perform many of the small daily rituals that our society has decided are “normal”. I’m not talking about the big things that allow our communities to function, but rather the small, insignificant things that only affect the individual and have no impact on others.

Do you really need to shower every day? While there may be no showers on a long-distance hike, there are usually streams or lakes. Taking a dip in a natural watercourse is yet another way to get back to nature, dissolve stress, and reinvigorate your senses. Alternatively, a top and tail with some wet-wipes (which you pack out with you of course) is more than sufficient for several days, and makes you appreciate the simple luxury of a hot shower once you get home.

Hot springs are a luxury huayhuash circuit Peru
Hot springs are a luxury huayhuash circuit Peru
Glacial river bath day of a trek in Iceland
Glacial river bath day of a trek in Iceland

Do you really need to change your clothes every day? There is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing the same clothes over and over again, especially while out hiking. In reality, clothes are rarely truly disgusting after only one day (or even several days) of use, and even if they do get dirtier than normal while out in the backcountry, does it really matter? A set of clothes to hike in, a couple of changes of quick-dry underwear (one on, one washed and drying on the back of your pack), and a second set of fresh clothes to change into once you reach camp, should be all you need for many long-distance hikes. It is all that I carry on my hikes, and my trekking companions have never complained. And I’ve shared some very small tents!

You may recognise the clothes on the way to Laguna Esperanza Argentina
You may recognise the clothes on the way to Laguna Esperanza Argentina
Everything you need fits in a 65L pack
Everything you need fits in a 65L pack

Is it really a bad thing to go to bed early? When out on the trail. it is the most natural thing in the world to reset your body clock according to the rhythm of nature. If it is dark at 7:30pm and you are tired after hiking more than 20.0km, why would you force yourself to stay up later?

This opportunity to ignore some of the more arbitrary cultural “norms” is one of the great escapes offered by long-distance hiking. Taking care of the environment, looking out for others, and following expectations that regulate our interactions with things around us are, of course, non-negotiable. But letting go of everything else and living according to what your body tells you and what makes sense given limited resources, is very liberating. After all, who is going to judge? Your trekking companions are likely doing the same thing!

Escape your comfort zone

Camping on top of Mt Poi northern kenya
Camping on top of Mt Poi northern kenya
Nobody and nothing here in East Iceland
Nobody and nothing here in East Iceland

We are conditioned for comfort and unconsciously steered by the habits we’ve picked up over the years. Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult to take a step back and assess whether these things serve us well or not, unless we remove ourselves from our daily routine and force ourselves out of our comfort zone.

By taking “time out” with a long-distance hike, we have a rare opportunity to explore what truly matters to us and discover what our minds and bodies are capable of when taken beyond their comfortable limits. Carrying only what is strictly necessary, strips away the creature comforts we are so accustomed to in our daily life (hello French press coffee) and encourages us to consider just how essential these things are for when we return home. Walking for several hours a day laden with everything we need to survive gives us a glimpse of what our bodies are capable of, without the need to hire expensive personal trainers and join an overpriced gym.

I have uncovered remarkable insights about how I want to live my life, and pushed my body far beyond what I would ever have thought possible, on multi-day hikes over the past couple of years. Being out in the wilderness for an extended period of time makes room for such mental and physical explorations (there are not too many other distractions) and almost always returns us home with the edges of our comfort zone redefined.

This is important. And potentially life changing.

I know it certainly changed mine!

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Escape the Crowds this Summer

Are you planning a summer holiday that involves checking out some of North America’s most stunning scenery? If so, your itinerary probably has you venturing to a National Park or two. How did you decide where to go? For many people, their itinerary is influenced by images they have seen on social media.
National Parks across the world are seeing record-breaking numbers of visitors. In the US, the National Park Service saw an increase of almost 57 million visitors between 2013 and 2017, representing an increase of more than 20% . It’s clear that tourists are in love with experiencing nature, and the numbers are increasing! This also means that the National Parks are getting more crowded, and summertime regularly sees traffic jams, long waits and fully booked campgrounds and accommodations.
It’s not only the US where National Parks are seeing increased visitors. Canada is also seeing a huge increase in yearly park visitor numbers. Canada’s most popular National Parks in the Rocky Mountai..

Are you planning a summer holiday that involves checking out some of North America’s most stunning scenery? If so, your itinerary probably has you venturing to a National Park or two. How did you decide where to go? For many people, their itinerary is influenced by images they have seen on social media.

National Parks across the world are seeing record-breaking numbers of visitors. In the US, the National Park Service saw an increase of almost 57 million visitors between 2013 and 2017, representing an increase of more than 20% . It’s clear that tourists are in love with experiencing nature, and the numbers are increasing! This also means that the National Parks are getting more crowded, and summertime regularly sees traffic jams, long waits and fully booked campgrounds and accommodations.

It’s not only the US where National Parks are seeing increased visitors. Canada is also seeing a huge increase in yearly park visitor numbers. Canada’s most popular National Parks in the Rocky Mountains saw 9% more visitors in 2018 compared to 2017, totaling a whopping 16.8 million visitors, with the majority of people going to Banff, Jasper or Yoho National Parks.

The views at the end of the Moraine Lake Road
The views at the end of the Moraine Lake Road
Welcome to Banff
Welcome to Banff

These circumstances are not only increasing the risk of destroying these delicate wildlife habitats but also reducing the quality of the recreational activities for individuals on holiday. What is interesting is that these crowds of tourists seem to concentrate in a few key areas. So even though parks like Banff, Yosemite and Yellowstone are very busy, there are still plenty of places where you can get away from the crowds and enjoy nature.

Social media is one of the driving forces that is increasing visitor numbers to National Parks and also pushing tourists to all the same places. People see an epic view and need to see it themselves. Unfortunately, this means that these special places are being overrun by their own beauty! As an example, a recent Guardian article shows how the introduction of Instagram in 2010 coincided with a tremendous increase in visitors at the stunning Horseshoe Bend viewpoint in Grand Canyon National Park. This stunning view has seen visitor numbers increase from 100,000 visitors per year in 2010 to over 2,000,000 in 2018!

Yosemite Falls Hike
Yosemite Falls Hike
South Rim and Uncle Toms
South Rim and Uncle Toms

We see this in a lot of the places we profile on 10Adventures. Favourite hikes that used to see a few dozen visitors a day, now have hundreds of hikers on these routes. It’s not only the trails that are busy, the mountain roads are getting filled with traffic, people have to stand in queues to take pictures on the most popular overlooks, and even the backcountry trails are clogging up.

This is why we think it’s important to promote other spectacular outdoor places. Below we share our top tips to escape the crush of other tourists on your next holiday.

5 Tips to Escape the Crowds on your next holiday

Garnet Canyon Hike in Grand Teton National Park
Garnet Canyon Hike in Grand Teton National Park
The Narrows
The Narrows

1. Go in the off-season. Leave the most popular parks for an off-season holiday. Popular National Parks like the Grand Canyon, Zion and Yosemite are just too busy in summer. Plan your trip outside of peak season, and not only will the crowds be lower, but these parks are actually more beautiful in early spring and late autumn, when the weather is better. In fact, many of the most popular parks are nearly deserted midweek in winter.

2. Get an early start. While it’s great to say go in the off-season, that’s not an option for lots of people and families. If you just have to go to Banff, Yosemite or Yellowstone in summer, make sure to get an early start each day. We like to wake up and start really early and use the middle of the day to relax, read or go for a swim. Then after dinner we check out another great attraction in the park. Not only does this mean we see far fewer crowds, but we get to see the most stunning places in perfect light! We also routinely see a lot more wildlife, as animals are most active outside of peak human hours!

3. Choose your dates wisely. Long weekends, special park events and discounted entry days are sure to be extra crowded. If you can, try and go other weekends. We know many people who work on long weekends in order to take a day in-lieu later, so they can go on another weekend that won’t be as busy.

4. Give the ski resorts a chance. Consider going to ski resorts and ski towns in summer. For many ski resorts, summer is low-season. While there are exceptions (Lake Louise in Canada, Jackson / Grand Teton in Wyoming), places like Mammoth, Whistler, and Aspen/Snowmass all offer great mountain towns with lots of summer outdoor activities and stunning scenery. Best of all, it’s actually cheaper to visit these places in summer compared to winter.

5. Explore someplace new! There are so many incredible places in the world to explore, it’s a shame so many of us are congregating at the same ones. Even within a busy National Park, there are many places that are still not that busy. So consider visiting new countries, new parks, new towns and new places. If you’re struggling to find a new place to go, we have a list of 8 incredible options to get you away from crowds on your next trip.

Joffre Lakes
Joffre Lakes
Midway Pass
Midway Pass

8 Less explored Vacation Options

  • Rocky Mountain National Park, in Colorado is spectacular, but it’s also the 3rd most visited National Park in the US. Colorado is full of winter resorts that are pretty quiet in summer. We love the Aspen/Snowmass area. Snowmass in particular is very well priced in summer, and the outdoor activities around Aspen are amazing!
  • Zion National Park is the 4th most visited park. You can still get away from the crowds by, for example, checking out the Kolob area. It has fewer crowds but the hikes are spectacular. Or consider going to Bryce Canyon National Park which is similar but gets 1.7 million fewer visitors a year.
  • Instead of Yellowstone, the 5th most popular park, try Lassen Volcanic National Park. Sure it’s in far-away California, but Lassen is also an amazing destination with spectacular hikes, volcanoes, sulfur springs, and forests. And it also gets 3.5 million fewer visitors than Yellowstone.
  • Yosemite is stunning, but it’s also the 6th most visited National Park in the US. This means that it is jammed, especially Yosemite Valley. Why not stay east of the park, in June Lake and spend your holiday exploring the incredible Tioga Road. You can also consider staying in Mammoth, a busy winter ski resort that is very comfortable in summer. Or try Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Parks, where nature and wildlife are really similar with fewer people on the trails.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park
Paddleboarding on Elbow Lake
Paddleboarding on Elbow Lake
  • Grand Teton National Park is beautiful, but it’s also the 8th most visited National Park. Try the nearby Wind River Range which offers so many beautiful hiking locations, you won’t have the time to finish them all.
  • A summer trip in the Pacific Northwest sounds great. Olympic National Park is wonderful, but is the 9th most visited National Park. Nearby are 2 other parks that get far fewer visitors but are still spectacular: the North Cascades and Mt Baker. Across the Salish Sea, on Vancouver Island, Strathcona Park feels almost empty during the week compared to crowds you’ll see at Olympic.
  • Everybody wants to see Montana’s Glacier National Park, the 10th most visited National Park. Which makes sense, as it’s truly spectacular, though the Going-to-the-Sun Road is getting busier every year. If you want to just get away from it all, consider 2.5 hours north to Canada’s new Castle Provincial Park, which has some of the most colorful rock faces in the Rockies. It’s also a key movement corridor for animals, so there are great wildlife spotting opportunities. It’s also still relatively undiscovered, even within Alberta!
  • In the Canadian Rockies, try Kananaskis Provincial Parks, or Kootenay National Park instead of Banff or Jasper National Park.
Another classic Canadian Rockies shot
Another classic Canadian Rockies shot
Hiking beside Curator Lake on Jaspers Skyline trail
Hiking beside Curator Lake on Jaspers Skyline trail

There’s a whole world out there to explore, and at 10Adventures we’re working hard to share the best outdoors routes in the most beautiful places on earth.

Richard Campbell is the founder of 10Adventures.com an online community for adventure travelers, with over 700 free route guides for the best hiking, backpacking and cycling in 60 of the most beautiful regions in North America and Europe.

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Mount Everest Base Camp Trek

The Mount Everest Base Camp trek (EBC) is a dream destination for many people, as it leads directly to the base of the highest mountain in the world. Hikers cross the Sagarmatha National Park and get an in-depth look into the local culture and traditions. Starting in forested areas, the trek climbs higher and higher and finally crosses glaciers and rubble. In springtime, people in the basecamp are getting ready to climb Mount Everest. On the way, visitors can see some of the highest mountains in the world, ancient monasteries, and stunning nature. A trip to the Everest Base Camp is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
THE BASICS Trekking to EBC on the way to Namche Bazar View from Namche Bazaar on the way to Everest Base CampClosest Major City: Katmandu
Start: Lukla
Accommodations: Teahouses
Costs: Less than $1000 – $1500 with guide and porter
Length:11-14 Days (excluding travel days)
When to Go: Spring or Fall
To do this trek, you have to get a permit from the local government..

The Mount Everest Base Camp trek (EBC) is a dream destination for many people, as it leads directly to the base of the highest mountain in the world. Hikers cross the Sagarmatha National Park and get an in-depth look into the local culture and traditions. Starting in forested areas, the trek climbs higher and higher and finally crosses glaciers and rubble. In springtime, people in the basecamp are getting ready to climb Mount Everest. On the way, visitors can see some of the highest mountains in the world, ancient monasteries, and stunning nature. A trip to the Everest Base Camp is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

THE BASICS

Trekking to EBC on the way to Namche Bazar
Trekking to EBC on the way to Namche Bazar
View from Namche Bazaar on the way to Everest Base Camp
View from Namche Bazaar on the way to Everest Base Camp

Closest Major City: Katmandu
Start: Lukla
Accommodations: Teahouses
Costs: Less than $1000 – $1500 with guide and porter
Length:11-14 Days (excluding travel days)
When to Go: Spring or Fall

To do this trek, you have to get a permit from the local government in Solukhumbu pay the entrance fee to the Sagarmatha National Park. Both tickets can be bought on the way. Carrying your original passport for this is essential. As regulations can change quite frequently, make sure to ask your agency before you leave if you have to get any permits in Kathmandu.

Getting there

Tengboche on the Everest Base Camp Trek
Tengboche on the Everest Base Camp Trek
Trekking to Dingboche on the EBC Trek
Trekking to Dingboche on the EBC Trek

To get to Nepal, you have to fly into the only international airport in Kathmandu. From there, you take a domestic early morning flight to Lukla, where you will start the hike. We strongly recommend spending a couple of days in Kathmandu before you leave for your trek to acclimatize and get over jetlag. Kathmandu has many interesting cultural sites to offer that can be visited.

If you don´t want to fly into Lukla, you can also take a bus to Jiri and walk from there. This would add an additional five to six days to the trek.

The Route

Stunning views on the trek to Dingboche
Stunning views on the trek to Dingboche
The village of Pangboche on the trek to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar
The village of Pangboche on the trek to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar

Starting in Lukla, the trek gains a total of 2520m in elevation. The trail is well marked and maintained, even though trekkers have to share it with long lines of mules and yaks that ferry goods up the mountain. The first days, the path leads through forested areas and along a river for a while. The first steep climb is the ascent towards Namche Bazar on the second day. The old trading center also presents itself as the perfect stop for the first rest day to help acclimatization.

After exploring the area, hikers continue towards Tengboche with its famous monastery and then Dingboche. In Dingboche, you should take another day of rest to acclimatize and climb the hill that overlooks the village. From here you can also get amazing views of the Ama Dablam and the Chola Pass.

After Dingboche, things get serious. In a long day with a very hard climb, you will reach Lobuche. OnAt the pass, you will walk by many memorials for people that died on the attempt to climb Mount Everest – a solemn reminder of the dangers of this mountain. From Lobuche, you make the final push towards Gorak Shep. Depending on the time you arrive there, you can either continue towards base camp in the afternoon or climb the Kala Patthar with an elevation of 5500m. From here, you have the perfect view of Mount Everest. When you stand in the base camp itself, the mountain actually hides behind the Lhotse face. When the weather allows it, the sunset from Kala Patthar is stunning.

After a cold night in Gorak Shep, the next morning you can either try to catch the sunrise on Kala Patthar or go to the base camp – depending on what you did the first day. After that it’s downhill again. Going down is much faster than up, but you should still watch your step as the trail can be demanding.

Food and Accommodation

The village of Dingboche on the EBC Trek
The village of Dingboche on the EBC Trek
Looking down on Dingboche
Looking down on Dingboche

On the way, you will stay in teahouses. In the Everest region, there are many options to stay, so if you are willing to pay some extra, you can get high-quality accommodations along the trail. You should bring your own sleeping bag, though, as the blankets are not always warm enough. Make sure it is a good one, as temperatures higher up can get very low at night – your water bottle will probably freeze in your room. Particularly in high season, places can book out quite quickly, so try to call ahead in the morning. If you have no guide, the teahouse where you stayed will be happy to help (and recommend a place). Otherwise your guide will do this for you.

The food on theMount Everest Base Camp Trek is excellent. Every guesthouse has a great choice of food items. To stay on the safe side, we recommend staying away from meat though, as there is often no proper cooling. Also, eating local dishes ensures that they are delicious, as the cook knows what he or she is doing and is more sustainable, as fewer resources have to be flown in for them. It is also advisable to try to order something similar when traveling in a group (i.e., noodles, rice, potatoes, etc.). This way, preparation is much faster and fewer resources are used.

Health

Trekking to Lobuche in the Himalayas
Trekking to Lobuche in the Himalayas
Yaksare everywhere on the EBC Trek
Yaksare everywhere on the EBC Trek

To be able to enjoy the trek, health is of core importance. On the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek, there are three main things trekkers have to look out for – altitude sickness, stomach bugs and the cold.

Mount Everest Base Camp is very high (5364m) , and altitude sickness is a serious concern. Even if you feel great, you should not skip the acclimatization days on the way up to base camp! They help the body to slowly adjust to the lower oxygen level in the air. If you experience severe headaches, dizziness or nausea, do not keep climbing. If you are in doubt, always go down. Many trekkers have to be rescued in critical condition every year because they tried to push on when they were already not feeling well. It is also advisable to talk to your doctor about possible measures you can take before you go on this trek.

Stomach bugs are widespread in Nepal and are typically spread through water or food. Be sure to use tablets or a filter to make water drinkable or only drink boiled water. We recommend avoiding meat as well, as this is a very common source for stomach issues. The higher you get, the more problems will your stomach have to digest food, even if you are not sick. Do not eat very oily or heavy meals, especially in the evening.

The stunning Khumbu Glacier
The stunning Khumbu Glacier
View of Everst and EBC from Kala Patthar
View of Everst and EBC from Kala Patthar

Many people catch a cold or a cough on theMount Everest Base Camp Trek, as the body is already strained in the altitude and temperatures can be very low at night. Make sure that you have gear that is suited for these circumstances. Drink lots of tea and hot ginger and bring medication for a sore throat or common cold to be able to counteract quickly. Do not overdo it either – if you feel tired one day, consider resting or cutting the day short.

In conclusion, the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek is a fantastic hike that is rewarding on so many levels. The highlight is, of course, reaching the famous base camp, but along the way, hikers get to see so many amazing things. Walking with yaks, passing by ancient stupas and monasteries and staying with the Sherpa in their villages all adds to the experience. For two weeks, visitors can completely detach from their normal lives and enjoy being totally immersed in nature and surrounded by the highest mountains in the world.

View of Mount Everest on the Everest Base Camp trek
View of Mount Everest on the Everest Base Camp trek
A few tents camped at Everest Base Camp
A few tents camped at Everest Base Camp

Sample Itinerary

  1. Fly to Lukla, hike to Phakding (2610m)
  2. Phakding to Namche Bazar (3440m)
  3. Acclimatization Day in Namche Bazar
  4. Namche Bazar to Tengboche (3870m)
  5. Tengboche to Dingboche (4410m)
  6. Acclimatization Day in Dingboche
  7. Dingboche to Lobuche (4940m)
  8. Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5164m), visit Kala Patthar (5500m)
  9. Visit Basecamp, hike to Pheriche (4370m)
  10. Pheriche to Namche Bazar (3440m)
  11. Namche Bazar to Phakding (2610m)
  12. Phakding to Lukla (2860m)

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All You Need To Know About Backcountry Camping in Banff National Park

The best way to explore Banff National Park is getting into the backcountry. We share how to book backcountry campsites in Banff with our tips below.
Banff National Park is one of Canada’s most popular outdoor destinations – with over 3 million visitors annually. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some solitude; most of the park’s 6641.0km2 are untouched, pure backcountry just waiting to be explored.
While most of Banff’s peak season visitors will stay in one of the park’s 14 campgrounds, there are literally hundreds of great backpacking and hiking routes to choose from, dotted with prime camping spots and breathtaking views.
Looking to head out to Banff for a backpacking adventures? Here’s everything you need to know about backcountry camping in Banff National Park.
Welcome to BanffPermits and Rules For Backcountry Camping in BanffTo spend the night in any of Banff’s backcountry areas, you will need a backcountry permit. Permits are $9.80 a night per person, and group size is limit..

The best way to explore Banff National Park is getting into the backcountry. We share how to book backcountry campsites in Banff with our tips below.

Banff National Park is one of Canada’s most popular outdoor destinations – with over 3 million visitors annually. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some solitude; most of the park’s 6641.0km2 are untouched, pure backcountry just waiting to be explored.

While most of Banff’s peak season visitors will stay in one of the park’s 14 campgrounds, there are literally hundreds of great backpacking and hiking routes to choose from, dotted with prime camping spots and breathtaking views.

Looking to head out to Banff for a backpacking adventures? Here’s everything you need to know about backcountry camping in Banff National Park.

Welcome to Banff
Welcome to Banff

Permits and Rules For Backcountry Camping in Banff

To spend the night in any of Banff’s backcountry areas, you will need a backcountry permit. Permits are $9.80 a night per person, and group size is limited to 10 people. You can spend up to 3 nights in one site before needing to move on.

Backcountry camping permits in Banff National Park are limited, so you’ll want to reserve your backpacking permit well in advance for trips in peak season (June through early September). It’s wise to book early for trips on either side of peak season, too. There’s a non-refundable reservation fee of $11.70, no matter how many nights you stay. This is in addition to the National Park Pass needed to enter Banff National Park.

Reservations for backpacking campsites in Banff National Park usually open in January on the National Parks website.

Egypt Lake Backpacking
Egypt Lake Backpacking
Scarab Lake and Whistling Pass from the trail to Mummy Lake
Scarab Lake and Whistling Pass from the trail to Mummy Lake

Prepping for Bears and Wildlife – Stay Safe in the Banff Backcountry

Grizzly bears and black bears are common in Banff, and the entire place is teeming with elk, fox and mule deer. Cougars, lynx, wolverines and wolves are also out there, so caution is warranted no matter how close to the front country you might stay. Always use the food storage cables or lockers at the backcountry campsites; if they aren’t provided, such as at random camping spots, you’ll need to bring a bear canister or rig up your own storage.

As always, do not approach wildlife – of any kind. Stay at least 100m from bears, and slowly back away if you come across any in your path. With most creatures, if you leave them alone, they’ll return the favor.

Also, keep an eye out for ticks, which can carry Lyme Disease.

Inquisitive Marmot in the Skoki Region
Inquisitive Marmot in the Skoki Region
Beautiful Assiniboine Cerulean Lake
Beautiful Assiniboine Cerulean Lake

Are campfires allowed in the Banff Backcountry

Some backcountry sites allow fires in designated metal fire rings. Some do not. Keep any fires small, and never leave it unattended. It’s highly recommended that you carry a backpacking stove for sites that do not allow fires. It’s up to you to know which sites allow open fires.

Random Camping In Banff National Park

Random camping (dispersed camping) is only allowed in designated areas in the remote reaches of the park. You must camp at least 5.0km from the trailhead or any designated campgrounds, at least 50m from any trail, and 70m from any water source. Fires are not allowed when random camping. A backcountry permit is required for random camping.

Other Tips + Etiquette for Backpacking in Banff

Pack in, pack out. Banff is absolutely gorgeous – please keep it pristine and just the way you found it!

Take Only Photos. You know the drill; leave all rocks, fossils, antlers and wildflowers, etc, where they belong.

Views while Assiniboine Backpacking
Views while Assiniboine Backpacking
View near Red Deer Lakes
View near Red Deer Lakes

Planning a Trip – Best Backcountry Camping Trips in Banff National Park

Backcountry camping trips in Banff range from the easy to strenuous, crowded (especially in summer) to secluded. Whether you want to spend 2 days or a week on the trails, there’s something here for you. Here are some of our favorite backpacking trips in Banff.

Glacier Lake

One quick backcountry camping trip, popular with novice backpackers, is the out-and-back trip to Glacier Lake from Icefields Parkway. This hike covers 17.0km and can be done in one night. You’ll spend the night at Glacier Lake backcountry campsite, which offers 5 sites with incredible views of the alpine lake. There are also fire pits and picnic tables, and it’s a perfect place to enjoy an easy night in the Rockies.

The problem? A place this popular and scenic and it fills up fast. It’s a great early-season hike but snagging a site in summer can be tough.

Devon Lakes

For a true multi-day backpacking trip through some of the park’s most exotic scenery, Devon Lakes can’t be beat. This 61.0km trek takes you to two remote alpine lakes deep in the heart of the park, 40.0km of which is above treeline. It’s a gorgeous experience, but one that can really only be attempted from July through September.

You’ll spend the night at Fish Lakes Campground, which – like Glacier Lake – has 5 tent sites, located near Fish Lake in a green, forested area. There are picnic tables and an outhouse at this campsite, so you’re not totally roughing it. There’s also a bear pole, which you’ll need, and be wary of the mosquitoes. They can be rough!

While not as crowded as Glacier Lake due to its remoteness, this site still fills up during the summer as well,so plan ahead if you want to attempt this epic trip.

Glacier Lake
Glacier Lake
Wildflowers abound on the backpack to Devon Lake
Wildflowers abound on the backpack to Devon Lake

Lake Minnewanka (A Classic)

A Banff National Park classic, Lake Minnewanka makes the perfect weekend backpacking trip. You can head out from the trailhead on Friday afternoon and come back Sunday, covering almost 25.0km of gorgeous views around the rim of Lake Minnewanka.

We usually spend the night on this trip at Aylmer Pass Junction Campground, but it’s closed from July 10th to September 15th due to grizzlies stirring up trouble (bring bear spray!) When it’s open, it’s got 10 fantastic campsites with sweeping Lake views, and a firepit. Again, this campsite fills up early when it’s open, so you’ll want to reserve early in the season.

Two other campsites for this trip (which you’ll want to use July through September when Aylmer Pass Junction is closed) are Aylmer Canyon and Mount Inglismaldie Campground. Both offer 5 tent sites and some epic views of Mt. Inglismaldie towering overheard and are excellent places to spend the night. While not the most crowded of trips, campsites still fill up fast in summer.

Lake Minnewanka is a great early-season hike when the snowpack is low, as it will often be snow-free in early May. Also note that it is closed to groups of less than 4 from July 10 through September 15th.

Baker Lake + Skoki Region

For an all-around epic backpacking trip in some of Banff’s most scenic backcountry, head to the Skoki Region. Baker Lake, sweeping mountain views and alpine meadows make this a rightly popular spot, but not one that’s too crowded to enjoy. You can easily spend 3-5 days in the region, provided you can book enough campsites. Like Banff’s other best trips, it’s best hiked July through September, but is usually open starting in late May or early June.

You’ll start your hike at the Fish Creek Road trailhead, right off Highway 1A. There are 4 great campsites to choose from in the Skoki region: Hidden Lake campground, which offers 5 tent sites but is very close to the trailhead; Merlin Meadows and Red Deer Lakes, which offer 10 sites and fire pits but boring views; and Baker Lake Campground.

Baker Lake is the most popular and the best. It has 10 sites all located right next to beautiful Baker Lake. The views are spectacular. Just be warned that it’s not a secluded spot, and there are no toilets. Our usual caveat applies – these campgrounds fill up fast, though you may be able to snag some last-minute spots in the tail end of the season.

The boats on Lake Minnewanka
The boats on Lake Minnewanka
Baker Lake
Baker Lake

Paradise Valley

This another excellent backpacking trip with some of the best views in the park, on the opposite side of Sentinel Pass from Moraine Lake. Unfortunately, the campground is often closed July through September due to grizzly activity. Groups of 4 are required for safety. The trailhead is off the Moraine Lake Road. There are 8 backcountry tent sites at Paradise Valley with some pretty epic views. It’s a quieter and less traveled trip, too, so snagging a site shouldn’t be too hard.

Molar Pass

Beginning at Mosquito Creek on the Icefields Parkway, this is a 4-day, 3-night trip that covers 52.0km over 2 stunning mountain passes and some of the most jaw-dropping views Banff has to offer, including vast, wide-open expanses of alpine meadows abutted by rocky peaks. Spend the first night at Mosquito Creek, the second at Fish Lakes, and the last as Molar Creek, or do it in the opposite direction and reverse those campsites. Note: If staying at Molar Creek, be careful not to pass the campsite, which is marked by only one, easy-to-miss sign.

Forest at Paradise Valley Circuit Hike in Lake Louise
Forest at Paradise Valley Circuit Hike in Lake Louise
North Molar Pass
North Molar Pass

Sawback Trail, Banff

If you’re in the mood for a true backcountry odyssey in Banff, gear up for the Sawback – a 74.0km trail that will take you through the craggy, intimidating Sawback Mountain Range. You’ll get to climb three equally mighty mountain passes and navigate a sampling of all the varied terrain Banff is known for. You’ll also need 4 to 6 days to do it.

Sawback Trail goes from near Lake Louise to just outside of Banff village. You can start at either – from the Fish Creek Trailhead near Lake Louise or the Cascade Amphitheatre Trailhead on the other end. If starting at Fish Creek, you’ll stay at Hidden Lake campground on night 1, followed by Baker Lake, Wildflower Creek, Badger Pass Junction, Johnston Creek, Larry’s Camp and Mystic Valley the following nights, depending on how quickly you want to accomplish it. You can also reconfigure the sites for a shorter trip more to your liking.

There’s not a lot of elevation gain over the course of those 74.0km, but the long distances plus the rugged terrain can be challenging. This is one backpacking trip for which you definitely want to know yourself and your limits.

The trick with this trip is planning ahead and getting all the campsites you want in the right order; you’ll want to book as early in the year as possible, especially if going during peak summer months. But if you can get them all, trust us – it’s a true alpine experience every step of the way.

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Skiing at the Newest ACC Hut on 5040

Explore the ACC’s new 5040 hut on Vancouver Island, with incredible ski touring and a beautiful new hut.
Epic views from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island Epic Skiing at 5040 Backcountry Hut on Vancouver IslandAbove tree-line on the sharp west ridge of 5040 peak, just inland from the raging surf of Ucluelet and Tofino, in the rugged, not often explored Vancouver Island mountains, stands one of the finest alpine huts in western Canada. The 5040 Hut, built by the Alpine Club of Canada’s Vancouver Island Section over the last two years, took 8000 volunteer hours and dozens of helicopter lifts to complete this incredible structure, complete with all modern amenities. In talking with the two Chris’s (Jensen and Ruttan) who spearheaded the construction, fundraising and organizational efforts, it is clear that this hut is first and foremost a ski hut. The terrain immediately surrounding the hut, well, it’s a steep skiers dream. The incredibly comfortable, beautifully appointed hut stands in s..

Explore the ACC’s new 5040 hut on Vancouver Island, with incredible ski touring and a beautiful new hut.

Epic views from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
Epic views from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
Epic Skiing at 5040 Backcountry Hut on Vancouver Island
Epic Skiing at 5040 Backcountry Hut on Vancouver Island

Above tree-line on the sharp west ridge of 5040 peak, just inland from the raging surf of Ucluelet and Tofino, in the rugged, not often explored Vancouver Island mountains, stands one of the finest alpine huts in western Canada. The 5040 Hut, built by the Alpine Club of Canada’s Vancouver Island Section over the last two years, took 8000 volunteer hours and dozens of helicopter lifts to complete this incredible structure, complete with all modern amenities. In talking with the two Chris’s (Jensen and Ruttan) who spearheaded the construction, fundraising and organizational efforts, it is clear that this hut is first and foremost a ski hut. The terrain immediately surrounding the hut, well, it’s a steep skiers dream. The incredibly comfortable, beautifully appointed hut stands in stark contrast to the rugged ski terrain and even more rugged approach.

Ski touring from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
Ski touring from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
Sunset from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
Sunset from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island

Access to the 5040 Hut

The access to the hut is probably par for the course in terms of Island access, but those coming from big national parks or even places where skiing from the highway is commonplace, getting in might be a bit of a sufferfest.

If coming from the east, drive west to Port Alberni and along Highway 4 towards Tofino. After passing Sutton Pass, reset your odometer and drive approximately 5.6km until you see a logging road on the left, Marion Creek Main. The trail head is 9.4km up the logging road, which in dry conditions will require an AWD or 4×4 vehicle with at least a little clearance to navigate. Marion Main is not plowed in the winter, so depending on snow levels, you might be stuck at any point along the logging road, and have to ski the rest. Watching the Sutton Pass webcam to see if there is snow is a good way to check the conditions of the logging road. A snowed in road adds a considerable amount of time to the approach!

Inside the new ACC 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
Inside the new ACC 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island

ACC 5040 Hut Trail Map

As you near the end of the logging road, be it by car or by foot, watch for a trail on your left with a large ‘5040’ sign. In all but the deepest winter conditions, you will have to remove your skis and hike up the beginning section of trail. The next 300m vertical of hiking with all that weight on your back is typically quite soul crushing. The relentlessly steep trail is also usually slick with a couple of inches of snow. There are a handful of switchbacks but for the most part the trail goes straight up, clambering over steep roots, rocks and fallen trees. Finally after breaking out of the old growth at around 900m, you will crest a small ridge and be able to don your skis and skins. From here, the trail follows this plateau up to Cobolt Lake at 1150m. From here, looking up to your left you will be able to see the outhouse of the hut, high on the ridge looking down at you.

From the lake take a hard left and work your way up through the glades to gain the west ridge of 5040 at 1300m. Finally you will arrive at the hut, which if you are lucky will already be warmed up for you by another party!

View at the Luxury inside the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
View at the Luxury inside the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
On the uptrack on Vancouver Island
On the uptrack on Vancouver Island

Facilities at the 5040 Hut

The Alpine Club of Canada’s 5040 Hut is a deluxe hut. On the roof there is a large solar array powering interior lights, the automatic wood pellet stove (climate controlled), and outlets for charging your electronics. There are also propane tanks and 4 burners for cooking. For melting water, there is a huge pot that sits on top of the wood pellet stove for constant hydration. The kitchen facilities have a full set of pots, pans, cutlery, cups, mugs, spatulas, cutting boards, pizza cutters, apple peelers, and almost anything else you could imagine.

There are two separate bunk rooms with 6 beds each, with comfortable mattresses in place. In the common area beside the kitchen there are two separate dining tables, and a small bar by the kitchen. There is also a pee closet located beside the entrance that is still being finished. Take note of the sign near the door instructing which side of the hut to get snow for melting and which to dispose of grey water.

Big Powder turns ski touring on Vancouver Island
Big Powder turns ski touring on Vancouver Island
Taking a break backcountry skiing on Vancouver Island
Taking a break backcountry skiing on Vancouver Island

Ski Touring at the 5040 Hut

Almost all of the terrain around the hut is very committing, this is not a place to bring novice ski tourers! The most moderate line around the hut involves skiing up the west ridge another 50m–100m, making your way through a number of benches with short steep sections in between. From the plateau just below the summit, ski down the way you came, and follow the approach trail through the glades down to the lake. This 200m line also skis well in storm conditions due to the number of trees.

A variation for those heading down to the lake involves skiing south-east from the hut along the cliffy bench 100m above Cobolt Lake. Traverse this bench to the far south side and ski one of the gullies down to the lake.

Another great view backcountry skiing on Vancouver Island
Another great view backcountry skiing on Vancouver Island
Getting some Pow on Vancouver Island
Getting some Pow on Vancouver Island

There are several routes to ski to the summit. The standard summer route goes sharp to the East (looker’s right) from the top of the previously described ski route. It makes a slightly exposed traverse above some cliffs and then cuts to the north to climb up the south ridge to the summit. Alternatively, you can boot-pack directly up any of the gullies directly below the summit. These gullies all make great ski lines, in addition to the numerous lines on the north and east aspects of the peak. Also, in fair weather the views of the surrounding peaks (including the stunning Triple Peak across the valley) and the Pacific Ocean are stellar.

Great views ski touring near Strathcona Park
Great views ski touring near Strathcona Park
Skiing through a storm from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island
Skiing through a storm from the 5040 Hut on Vancouver Island

Overall, the 5040 Hut is a great addition for Vancouver Island. It opens up lots of great ski terrain, and will also be spectacular for summer hiking. To book a holiday here, check out the ACC 5040 Hut page for booking info.

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Hiking Germany’s picturesque Malerweg

The Malerweg in Germany is a circular multi-day hike leading through the stark sandstone rock formations of Germany’s “Sächsische Schweiz”, or Saxon Switzerland, a national park which has been popular amongst hikers, climbers and painters for centuries.
THE BASICS OF THE MALERWEG HIKEThe 8-day Malerweg hike in Germany is a wonderful trek. It takes its name (meaning “the Painter’s Way”) from the 18th century landscape artists who sought it out for its dramatic, romantic vistas. Then as now, this hike features spectacular views, varied terrains, as well as comfortable accommodation in quaint guest houses and bed and breakfasts for the modern-day hiker. Easy to moderate in difficulty, the Malerweg is manageable for most casual hikers, and an ideal tour to discover the beauty, variety and culture of Germany’s Saxon Switzerland.
The iconic, if rather crowded, Bastei Bridge A popular lunch spot in the Saxon Switzerland National Park along the MalerwegClosest Major City: Dresden, Germany
Sta..

The Malerweg in Germany is a circular multi-day hike leading through the stark sandstone rock formations of Germany’s “Sächsische Schweiz”, or Saxon Switzerland, a national park which has been popular amongst hikers, climbers and painters for centuries.

THE BASICS OF THE MALERWEG HIKE

The 8-day Malerweg hike in Germany is a wonderful trek. It takes its name (meaning “the Painter’s Way”) from the 18th century landscape artists who sought it out for its dramatic, romantic vistas. Then as now, this hike features spectacular views, varied terrains, as well as comfortable accommodation in quaint guest houses and bed and breakfasts for the modern-day hiker. Easy to moderate in difficulty, the Malerweg is manageable for most casual hikers, and an ideal tour to discover the beauty, variety and culture of Germany’s Saxon Switzerland.

The iconic, if rather crowded, Bastei Bridge
The iconic, if rather crowded, Bastei Bridge
A popular lunch spot in the Saxon Switzerland National Park along the Malerweg
A popular lunch spot in the Saxon Switzerland National Park along the Malerweg

Closest Major City: Dresden, Germany
Start: Liebesthaler Grund, Pirna
Accommodations: B & B’s, guest houses, one bunk house
Costs: Travel from Berlin and accommodation €500
Length: 8 Days Walking + Travel days
When to Go: March through October

This hike is pretty accessible with German public transport. Head to Dresden in Saxony before making your way to the small town of Pirna, enjoying the historic city center, the evening before you start your hike. The hike’s starting point is the Liebesthaler Grund, a 15-minute bus ride from Pirna.

The walking along this trail is straightforward with some strenuous sections, with gradual to steep ascents taking you up and down around 600m on most days. But all good views must be earned, and rest assured that these are worth it.

The hike is popular in Germany and can get quite busy, especially during school holidays and the autumn, when this walk is highly recommended to enjoy its stunning fall colours. Whichever month you choose to go, most hikers walk the route from Saturday to Saturday, so you’ll find the route a lot less busy if you start mid-week. Either way, do make sure to book your accommodation well in advance as rooms along the route quickly fill up.

The route is divided into 8 stages, which lead from one small town to another, passing iconic sights including the (sadly extremely touristic) Bastei Bridge, along the way. The route is signposted with a red M on a white background, but navigation can get tricky in places. I recommend Hike Line’s Malerweg walking guide which seemed one of the most reliable on the route, leading to me becoming a go-to map resource to other hikers with less detailed descriptions.

MALERWEG TRAIL INFO

A viewpoint across the Elbe Valley with a rare seating opportunity
A viewpoint across the Elbe Valley with a rare seating opportunity
A monument to classical composer Richard Wagner who wrote his opera The Flying Dutchman in Dresden
A monument to classical composer Richard Wagner who wrote his opera The Flying Dutchman in Dresden

The Malerweg is a moderate trail to hike, and can be completed without too much difficulty by most day hikers: along the route I met hikers between the ages of 13 and 65.

The climate on the Malerweg hike is mild and accommodating, requiring no special gear you wouldn’t normally use on a European day walk. I found mornings quite chilly in October and was grateful for my base layers, but felt comfortable in leggings, a merino hiking top, mid-layer jacket and raincoat for the rest of the day. The tops of hills can get windy, so make sure you’re wrapped up warm and have a good raincoat, and you’re good to go. I also wore trail running shoes and was very happy with them – they’re lighter than hiking boots and the terrain was mostly even, so there’s no need for extra ankle support. You’ll need a sleeping bag liner to stay in the alpine hut-style accommodation at Neumannmühle, the most remote stage of the trail. It’s also recommended to take cash to pay for accommodations en route, as most aren’t paid for in advance.

The walk includes some tight passages between rocks, as well as ladders and metal steps, which make a large backpack very awkward to carry on route. I’d recommend that you either pack light and bring a 35L backpack for the whole route, or use baggage transfer companies and walk with a smaller day pack, if you prefer a lighter load.

The Malerweg Route

View from the Kaiserkrone
View from the Kaiserkrone
A more strenuous and exciting section climbing to the Schrammsteine
A more strenuous and exciting section climbing to the Schrammsteine

The trail leads east from Liebesthaler Grund into the more remote sections of the Elbsandstein mountain range. Heading east for the first five days along the north side of the Elbe river, the first section of the trail is the most naturally spectacular.

The Bastei Bridge on the second day of the hike is the most popular sight along the trail, but no less rewarding than the Hockstein, which boasts spectacular views from the top of a sharp spire (thankfully with a small bannister to hold on to), and a 508-step staircase THROUGH a rock called the Wolfsschlucht, or wolf’s ravine. If that isn’t enough to get your blood pumping, you can read about a local ghost story about this rock at the Polenztal Guesthouse.

The next stages of the hike lead to big open views across the Elbe and up to the top of the Schrammsteine, a huge rock formation viewed from the top of a 400m-high plateau. This section offers some of the most fun walking on the trail with characteristic metal steps, ladders and handrails going up and down steep sandstone rocks. I’m not a huge fan of heights personally, but these sections were some of the most exhilarating on the trek.

Malerweg trail map

The Polenztal guesthouse

The Neumannmühle marks the end of Stage 4, and its hut in an inviting rest stop for hikers along the route. Similar to Alpine huts, it offers sleeping accommodation for up to 30 people in a simple dormitory. You’ll also share a warm, hearty meal with new friends from the trail and swap stories of your walk so far.

From the gorgeous village of Schmilka, right on the Czech border after Stage 5, it’s a short ferry ride across the Elbe before starting the walk back out of the Sächsische Schweiz, and beginning your walk back towards Pirna. The southern section of the Malerweg is flatter than its first five stages, with fewer peaks to climb, some of which are slightly off-route. Even though after five days of near-constant up and down your legs may be saying otherwise, these extra peaks are not to be missed. From the Kaiserkrone you can see across the Elbe valley you’ve just walked through, with a magnificent view of the Zirkelstein. Here, you’ll also be tracing the steps of Caspar David Friedrich, and learn more about his most famous painting.

The Polenztal guesthouse
The Polenztal guesthouse
A sea of trees from the top of the Pfaffenstein
A sea of trees from the top of the Pfaffenstein

A sea of trees, from the top of the Pfaffenstein

The remaining sections of the walk lead through pastoral fields and up two more steep sections. The Papststein is an absolute killer on the legs, but tired walkers are soon rewarded at a restaurant on the top of the hill, which serves a German specialty called Käsespätzle – a dish of cheesy goodness as filling and satisfying as they come. The eighth and final section is a small “best-of” of the Malerweg with final dizzying metal bridges over the tops of dainty sandstone peaks, fields and woods, and a long final stretch along the Elbe River back to Pirna’s town centre.

MALERWEG ITINERARY

The view from the Schrammsteine Told you the climb was worth it
The view from the Schrammsteine Told you the climb was worth it

Day 1
11.5km, 4 hours. Up 213m, down 251m
Start: Liebethal
Finish: Stadt Wehlen
Route: A lush introduction to the sandstone rocks of the region, the hike starts off gently but with first glimpses of fairytale-like valleys. The Uttewalder Grund, halfway through the section, is known as one of the most beautiful valleys of Saxon Switzerland. The section finishes with a beautiful view of Stadt Wehlen.

Day 2
13.2km, 5 hours. Up 502m, down 321m
Start: Stadt Wehlen
Finish: Hohnstein
Route: Now firmly inside the national park of Saxon Switzerland, this section crosses the Bastei Bridge, the most famous tourist site in the region. From there hikers descend to Amselgrund and Rathewalde, where open landscapes await. The section finishes after the Hockstein.

Day 3
11.7km, 5 hours. Up 512m, down 464m
Start: Hohnstein
Finish: Altendorf
Route: An even approach to the Brand, which offers famous views across the Elbe valley and a hearty meal. From there through fields with some climbs to Altendorf.

Day 4
13.6km, 7 hours. Up 668m, down 753m
Start: Altendorf
Finish: Neumannmühle
Route: A gradual climb up to the Schrammstein viewpoints, with handrails, metal ladders and stairs to climb. From there a largely isolated walk to the Kuhstall, a natural gap under a massive rock used for herding cows. The Lichtenhainer waterfall is another highlight on this stage.

Wonderful views on the Malerweg hike
Wonderful views on the Malerweg hike
Hiking the Malerweg in Germany
Hiking the Malerweg in Germany

Day 5
13.6km, 6 hours. Up 667m, down 744m
Start: Neumannmühle
Finish: Schmilka
Route: A remote, wooded section with viewpoints back along the Elbe Valley. An additional walk into the Czech Republic to visit the Prebischtor, Europe’s largest natural sandstone bridge, is possible from Schmilka.

Day 6
16.7km, 6.5 hours. Up 701m, down 504m
Start: Schmilka
Finish: Gohrisch
Route: After a boat ride across the Elbe, there’s a steep climb to the Kaiserkrone. From there the route takes you through the villages of Schöna and Reinhartsdorf.

Day 7

15.4km, 6 hours. Up 554m, down 654m
Start: Gohrisch
Finish: Weißig
Route: The second to last section passes the Pfaffenstein, which offers iconic views of the Barbarine, a 42m high rock spire. A final descent leads to Königstein, followed by the town of Thürmsdorf.

Day 8
12.4km, 5 hours. Up 352m, down 545m
Start: Weißig
Finish: Pirna
Route: The Rauenstein offers a last sweeping view of Saxon Switzerland. The route passes through villages of Naundorf before a long final section along the rover Elbe back to Pirna.

EATING ON THE MALERWEG TREK

More great views on the Malerweg
More great views on the Malerweg
Following the Malerweg route in Germany
Following the Malerweg route in Germany

German cooking is known for its hearty dishes, and Saxony serves up German food at its heartiest. That means carbs, carbs and some more carbs. Breakfasts in guesthouses are usually fresh bread rolls (Brötchen in German) with meats and cheeses, jams and a boiled egg or two. There are lunch spots along the route to be found on most days, and most guest houses happily provided a packed lunch for a small fee (ca €5) when I asked for one. But the most popular mid-hike stop proved to be coffee and cake for walkers! Dinners at guest houses varied from local meaty stews, dumplings, or other typical German meals such as Schnitzel and fries. Vegetarian options were often limited but available in all places I visited.

Supermarkets were sparse along the route, so bringing your own snack bars before starting your hike is recommended. German tap water is drinkable so you can easily refill your water bottles in your room before setting off each morning.

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Planning A trip to Yosemite

If you are planning a trip to Yosemite, this blog post is just for you. Here you will find all the information on where to stay in Yosemite, how to get here, what’s the weather in Yosemite like, where to eat and a lot more. We want to help you make your Yosemite trip special and it really has a lot to offer.Disclosure: This post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you buy one of these products or services. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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Just a note: There’s an ongoing legal dispute between the park service and the outgoing concessionaire. So some of the park’s properties have been temporarily renamed (i.e. Curry Village is now called Half Dome Village). The names may revert back to the original version after the dispute is settled.
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Covering more than 3,000 square kilometers of land across central California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Yosemite National Park has ..

If you are planning a trip to Yosemite, this blog post is just for you. Here you will find all the information on where to stay in Yosemite, how to get here, what’s the weather in Yosemite like, where to eat and a lot more. We want to help you make your Yosemite trip special and it really has a lot to offer.

Disclosure: This post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you buy one of these products or services. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

*****
Just a note: There’s an ongoing legal dispute between the park service and the outgoing concessionaire. So some of the park’s properties have been temporarily renamed (i.e. Curry Village is now called Half Dome Village). The names may revert back to the original version after the dispute is settled.
*****

Covering more than 3,000 square kilometers of land across central California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Yosemite National Park has so much to offer – from the continent’s tallest water falls, the world’s largest granite monolith to the ancient towering Giant Sequoias and much more. Yosemite was first established in 1890, and today continues to be one of the most visited in North America, with roughly 4 million people entering its grounds each year.

More than 95% of the park is classified as wilderness – making it an exceptional place to hike and explore. The rugged mountain landscape carved by glaciers is spotted with thousands of lakes and ponds, two major rivers, meadows, wetlands, waterfalls and an epic 1300.0km of hiking trails.

The main roads within Yosemite are the Tiogo Road, which is closed November to May; Highway 140 from Merced to Yosemite Valley; Highway 41 from Fresno, closed from Badger Pass to Glacier Point from November to May; and Highway 120 from San Francisco to Yosemite Valley.

Here we’ll take you through the basic overview of hiking in Yosemite National Park – including how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, what to see and what to watch out for.

Group of people taking images near the Yosemite Falls
Group of people taking images near the Yosemite Falls

HOW TO GET TO YOSEMITE

Flying to Yosemite

The closest airport to Yosemite is Fresno International airport, approximately 1.5 hours from the park’s South Entrance and 2.5 hours to Yosemite Valley. The next closest are Merced Airport, about 2 hours from Yosemite Valley or Modesto City-County Airport, about 2 hours from Yosemite Valley.

Driving to Yosemite

Sacramento to Yosemite. Driving from Sacramento yo Yosemite takes around 3-4 hours and takes you via CA-99 S and CA-120 E roads.
Fresno to Yosemite. Driving from Fresno to Yosemite takes around 1:20-2 hours via the road CA-41 N.
Las Vegas to Yosemite. If you’re going from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park, it will take you around 5:30-6 hours via US-95 N, depending on traffic.
Los Angeles to Yosemite. Driving from LA to Yosemite would take you 4:45-5 hours via CA-99 N.
San Jose to Yosemite. Driving from San Jose to Yosemite National Park takes 0around 3 Hours via CA-120 E.

You can also take public transport to and within the park, but check out the NPS website for the most up to date route accessibility.

BEST TIME TO VISIT YOSEMITE

Yosemite National Park is open all year round, 24/7, with no required reservations. The most popular time to visit is during the summer, although each season has its own unique advantages. Most of the park covered in snow from November to May, offering solitude from the crowds that come when the sun is shining to its fullest. In the spring, warmer weather melts the snow and the park’s waterfalls reach peak capacity. During the summer season, all the park’s roads are open and abundant sunshine makes make the entire park accessible for hiking. During the fall you can enjoy less crowds without the freezing winter temperatures.

There is no vehicle access for the Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road trailheads, typically from November to May or early June, so keep that in mind if you’re planning a hike here.

Weather In Yosemite

Average monthly temperature and precipitation in Yosemite National Park by monts:

Weather in Yosemite
Weather in Yosemite

As you can see, Yosemite in July and August gets pretty hot and usually keeps a higher level of temperature throughout till September. The participation level in Yosemite in November rises and rain and snow continue to cover the park until April – May.

HOW TO GET AROUND IN YOSEMITE

From May/early June to October/early November the main roads within the park are open for vehicle access. In addition, there is also a shuttle service available within the park (but not to all areas). Within Yosemite Valley – the park’s most popular spot – there is a free shuttle service around the eastern segment.

There is also the El Capitan shuttle bus, stopping at El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, Four Mile Trailhead, and the Valley Visitor Center. This is open from mid-June to early October. There is also the fee-based YARTS bus, which travels within the park. For complete information about getting around Yosemite, check out the NPS Yosemite public transportation guide.

MAP OF YOSEMITE

You can download the most up-to-date map of Yosemite National Park from the NPS.GOV official website or by pressing this link: OFFICIAL YOSEMITE VALLEY PARK MAP (PDF, 28 MB)

WHERE TO STAY IN YOSEMITE

Within Yosemite there is a selection of accommodation options – from campgrounds to canvas tents, cozy cabins to a grandiose five-star hotel. Even the most rustic of accommodation options fill up within minutes of availability being released, so make sure to plan your months (or even years – yes really) ahead of time. For a complete list of accommodation in Yosemite, check out the Yosemite Hospitality website.

There are thirteen popular campgrounds within the park, several of which follow a reservation system: the Upper Pines, Lower Pines, North Pines and Crane Flat campgrounds and half of the Tolumne Meadows. Reservations are available in blocks of one month at a time, up to five months in advance. On the 15th of each month, at 7am Pacific Time the reservation period opens. During the period of May to September, reservations are filled within the first day they become available, some even seconds after 7am. Even with the first-come, first-serve campgrounds, they usually fill up by noon or earlier from April through September. It’s also possible to camp in the wilderness, just make sure to get a wilderness permit.

River at Yosemite Boot Hike in Yosemite National Park
River at Yosemite Boot Hike in Yosemite National Park
Mountain at Yosemite Valley Hike in Yosemite National Park
Mountain at Yosemite Valley Hike in Yosemite National Park

One historic lodge within the park is the Wawona Hotel (now known as Big Trees Lodge). Built in 1879, this historic hotel is one of the oldest mountain lodges in California. It’s located between Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Here you can find reasonably priced rooms with an authentic Victorian-style charm.

The crown jewel of accommodation in Yosemite is, however, the Ahwahnee Hotel (now called Majestic Yosemite Hotel). Built in 1927, this five star hotel features an enormous Great Lounge and dining room – ideal for many grandiose events throughout the year – a striking granite façade, crafted log beam ceilings and a uniquely Native American décor. Throughout history famous celebrities have stayed here, and if you want to get a room in the summer season, you better book early.

If you can’t find a place to stay inside Yosemite, have no fear – there are many small towns dotting the periphery of the park’s massive boundaries. A hidden secret is that if you want to hike the High Sierra off the Tioga Road, you can book a place to stay on the park’s eastern border such as in Lee Vining or June Lake. Personally, June Lake is our favorite, but both offer affordable prices, cell phone signal and some cool things to explore. One option is the cozy cabins at Double Eagle Resort and Spa or the budget-friendly June Lake Villager Motel.

For access to Yosemite Valley – without the massive crowds – try staying in Yosemite West Condos. As well, there are tons of other places to stay outside the park that are just a 60 min drive to the center of the Valley such as Mariposa, Buck Meadows, Groveland (with a fun main street featuring a Wild West theme) or Big Oak Flat. Oakhurst is the farthest away – about a 90 min drive – but still manageable. Also consider that, especially during peak seasons driving in and out of the valley may be full of traffic jams.

Man hiking on trails through the woods at Yosemite Valley Hike at Yosemite National Park
Man hiking on trails through the woods at Yosemite Valley Hike at Yosemite National Park

YOSEMITE RESTAURANTS

There are a lot of options of where to eat in Yosemite, but it also depends on the season you’re going.During the peak season (May-October) there are a wide variety of dining options in the park for those on any budget. If you’re looking for luxury after a long day in the wilderness, don’t miss out on dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room (now Majestic Yosemite Hotel). They ask you dress for dinner, but a visit to the dining room is an experience in itself.

Other more upscale options include the Wawona Hotel (now Big Trees Lodge) or the Mountain Room Restaurant – with the latter feature unparalleled views of Yosemite Falls.

For something more casual and budget friendly, check out some of the options in Yosemite Valley such as Degnan’s Deli for fresh made sandwiches and salads, Degnan’s Loft Pizza for homemade pizzas, soups, salads and appetizers (located above the deli) or Village Grill Deck, for hearty burgers, sandwiches or their famous milkshakes. For a quick coffee or croissant, check out Degnan’s Café (also in Yosemite Valley).

Half Dome Village also offers a variety of dining options such as hand-tossed pizzas at the Pizza Deck, home-style cooking from the Half Dome Village Pavilion, or grilled sandwiches from the Meadow Grill. For a quick coffee, pastry or make-your-own oatmeal combination, check out the Coffee Corner here, too.

Yosemite Falls rocky stairs
Yosemite Falls rocky stairs
Panorama Trail Hike Yosemite National Park
Panorama Trail Hike Yosemite National Park

YOSEMITE ACTIVITIES

There is a lot more to Yosemite Activities besides hiking (although check out our Best Hikes in Yosemite National Park as well). Yosemite is full of tons and tons of stunning sites accessible with or without a tour such as Glacier Point, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, Tunnel View, Half Dome, Sentinel Dome, Mist Trail, El Capitan, Tioga Pass and Vernal Falls.

To explore via the waterways, check out rafting on the Merced River or fly fishing with the Yosemite Outfitters. Learn some rock climbing with the Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service, open since the 1960s, or unwind with a round of golf at the Big Trees Lodge Golf Course.

To cool off from the summer heat, you can swim on the sandy beaches of the Merced River or the secluded area in Toulumne Meadows or the High Sierra Camps. There are also pools that can be used by the day at the Half Dome Village and Yosemite Valley Lodge.

And don’t forget the rich history of Yosemite. Experts estimate that the area has been inhabited for over 3,000 years! To a better look, check out the park’s several museums such as the Yosemite Museum, Pioneer Yosemite History Museum, Mariposa Museum and History Center or the John Muir Geo Tourism Center. As well, the Ansel Adams gallery is a highlight not to be missed.

Falls at Yosemite Boot Hike in Yosemite National Park
Falls at Yosemite Boot Hike in Yosemite National Park

DANGERS IN YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

  • Extreme heat in the Valley in the height of summer, make sure you pack plenty of water.
  • There are lots of cars, incredible views and narrow roads. Make sure to pay attention and drive safely.
  • Rockfalls are relatively uncommon, but do happen at several points throughout the year. Make sure to pay close attention if you’re in area where rockfall could occur.
  • Lighting is a common occurrence in the park, especially on summer afternoons.
  • Don’t depend on cell phones for a GPS, service often doesn’t work in many parts of the park.
  • The park is home to between 300-500 black bears, never approach them and ensure food is kept in a regulation container or food locker.
  • Even if flowing water looks calm, beware, it can have a serious undercurrent.
  • Use bug spray, mosquitos and ticks within the park can carry diseases.
  • Always stay with a group when hiking, and consult the Yosemite hiking safety tips before beginning your trip.

MORE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT YOSEMITE

Yosemite National Park Entrance fee. Park fees for non-commercial vehicles i.e. car, pickup truck, RV, or van with 15 or fewer passenger seats is $30 per vehicle (no per-person fee). Foot, bicycle, horse, or non-commercial bus or van with more than 15 passenger seats: $15 per person aged 16 and older.
Bear Safety. All food must either be stored in a bear proof food locker or container.
Yosemite Elevation. The elevation in Yosemite National Park rises to 2.621 m (1.629 mi), some people might need to adjust to the elevation if they get here from the sea level.
Yosemite pronunciation. Even though it’s spelled with one E at the end it is pronounced “Yoh-Sem-Ee-Tee”.
Yosemite Wilderness Permit. Free wilderness permits are required year-round for backpacking or any other overnight stays in the Yosemite Wilderness. With the exception of the Half Dome hike, wilderness permits are not required for day hikes. You can apply for a wilderness permit on NPS.GOV.

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Planning A Trip to Chamonix

Chamonix! What an incredible mountain town. Everybody should visit Chamonix once in their life. A vacation in Chamonix has everything! Great hiking, great food, great views and (usually) great weather! We love gazing up at Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in the Alps. If you need help planning a trip to Chamonix then look no further.Table of contentsHow to Get to Chamonix
Chamonix Weather
How to get around in Chamonix
Chamonix Map
Chamonix Hotels
Best restaurants in Chamonix
Things to do in Chamonix
Dangers When Hiking in Chamonix
Interesting facts about Chamonix
Disclosure: This post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you buy one of these products or services. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The beautiful region of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (typically shortened to Chamonix) is the birthplace of mountaineering. Today it is a great base for climbers, skiers, bikers, hikers, families and j..

Chamonix! What an incredible mountain town. Everybody should visit Chamonix once in their life. A vacation in Chamonix has everything! Great hiking, great food, great views and (usually) great weather! We love gazing up at Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in the Alps. If you need help planning a trip to Chamonix then look no further.

Table of contents

How to Get to Chamonix
Chamonix Weather
How to get around in Chamonix
Chamonix Map
Chamonix Hotels
Best restaurants in Chamonix
Things to do in Chamonix
Dangers When Hiking in Chamonix
Interesting facts about Chamonix

Disclosure: This post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you buy one of these products or services. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The beautiful region of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (typically shortened to Chamonix) is the birthplace of mountaineering. Today it is a great base for climbers, skiers, bikers, hikers, families and just regular travellers.

We love the Chamonix Valley. But it’s not just the town of Chamonix. Obviously, we recommend staying in Chamonix proper, but we also enjoy Argentière and Les Houches. Argentière is a little smaller with some great chalets and apartments to rent. Les Houches is typically a little less expensive, but it is a 30-minute bus or ten-minute drive to get to Chamonix. When we hear people are planning a family holiday, we usually mention Les Houches to the parents because there are some great vacation rentals, hotels and restaurants there that we love and they are more kid friendly.

Chamonix has a wide variety of attractions, so it isn’t simply a hiking holiday. The summer gondolas and trains take you on wonderful journeys and make your hikes easier, allowing you to glide up the steep incline and start in the Alpine. You shouldn’t feel the need to hike everyday in Chamonix. That being said, once you get there you just might try, especially once you check out our Top 10 hikes in Chamonix. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Chamonix already!

Mont Blanc Hike
Mont Blanc Hike
Chamonix Village during the Summer
Chamonix Village during the Summer

HOW TO GET TO CHAMONIX

Flying to Chamonix

Chamonix does not have a commercial airport. When traveling from outside of France, the closest commercial airports are Geneva, Lyon and Chambery airports.

Geneva has a big variety of airlines coming here. the majority of different airlines using the airport and is also closer by an hour and there are lots of options for transfers. One of the popular companies is Mountain Drop Offs, who offer 10Adventures users discounts to get to Chamonix or check out this post on shared transfers to find out the best option for you to get to Chamonix.

Lyon is a two-hour drive away from Chamonix and there are regular transfers with Chamonix First.

Driving to Chamonix

Geneva to Chamonix. The drive from Geneva to Chamonix takes around 1 h 15 min and is approximately 82.0km long via road A40.
Paris to Chamonix. If you are planning to drive from Paris to Chamonix, it takes around 6 h 25 min (614.0km) via roads A6 and A40.
Lyon to Chamonix. The drive from Lyon to Chamonix takes around 2 h 40 min (224.0km) via the road A40.

CHAMONIX WEATHER

Chamonix weather usually has quite a narrow amplitude, which makes it perfect – not too cold for skiing and doesn’t get too hot for hiking.

In Chamonix tourists come to ski in the winter and hike in the summer. Typically you can still ski in the spring, and actually a lot of people prefer it to the winter. Just be careful it doesn’t get too warm.

In the autumn you usually can keep hiking well into autumn, and in low snow years hiking in December may be possible, depending on weather conditions.

Chamonix weather and precipitation averages:

Chamonix weather
Chamonix weather

The weather in Chamonix stays relatively similar from November through to March, still getting the snow till May. And the hottest months in Chamonix are usually June through August, which is great for hiking.

HOW TO GET AROUND Chamonix

We love not having a car in Chamonix, as it makes getting around and doing one-way hikes easier. To get to Chamonix from Geneva, try Mountain Drop Offs, who offer 10Adventures users discounts to get to Chamonix.

The transit system in the region in Chamonix is very good. Buses and trains can get you from place to place if you are willing to wait a little longer.

You can certainly rent a car if you like, and if you’re staying in Les Houches this might be advised. We heartily recommend using transit though, and in fact we wish more mountain towns were as well-serviced as Chamonix.

There is a great guest card you can get that lets you use the transit for a great price. Check out the Chamonix Website for some details about what they offer.

Alpine Lake near the Chamonix
Alpine Lake near the Chamonix
Beautiful French Alps During the Spring
Beautiful French Alps During the Spring

CHAMONIX MAP

You can download the Chamonix Map from this official Chamonix website. Or download the pdf Chamonix maps just by pressing the links bellow:

Chamonix town center map.
Chamonix Valley Map.

CHAMONIX HOTELS

We love staying in Chamonix. Being close to the shops, restaurants makes paying a bit more worth it for us. So we have picked out some of the best Chamonix hotels for you.

Let’s begin with some Chamonix luxury. Imagine our delight a few years ago when we walked into Chamonix on a long-distance trek to find out there was an incredible special at Hôtel Mont-Blanc. This is the original Chamonix hotel, and it is spectacular hotel in a great location. After showering, we spent days lounging by their spectacular pool drinking cocktails and savouring this wonderful historic hotel.

Hameau Albert 1er is a five-star hotel with a world-class restaurant. One look at the video on their website’s homepage will be more than enough to convince you, but let us add some sweetener to that. They have a beautiful spa and pool area. That restaurant we mentioned has stars of its own: two of them and they are Michelin. It’s located in Chamonix and it’s our pick for the regions more luxurious hotel.

Le Hotel Chamonix Labrador is a great upper-mid range hotel. It has balconies that open onto the Golf Course and backs onto views of Mont Blanc. It has a breakfast buffet, a chalet feel and, for the location, we think it validates the price. The view of Mont Blanc makes it great for any season, but the golf course makes this hotel especially great for the summer months.

Chalet Ski-Station in the Chamonix city centre is a perfectly situated hostel. If you’re looking for a budget place for the skiing season you should look no further (and book early). This hostel is very close to the Brévent Cable Car and some good Chamonix restaurants. If dining out is too much, use the hostel’s shared kitchen. We think this is a fantastic spot if you want to be in Chamonix proper. They also have free Wi-Fi.

The second place to stay in the Chamonix we recommend is Argentière. It’s a pretty compact village with good train and bus connections, so you hardly need a car. Walking around this village is simply superb.

We like Yeti Lodge where guests can pick from an amazing selection of Chalets and apartments that are expertly managed and catered. This is the proper and classic way to see the Alps, especially with a larger group.

The Le Dahu Hotel is the perfect mid range option. The rooms aren’t overly spacious (at the lowest level at least) but they are crisp, clean and the breakfast buffet is a great way to start your day. For something a little more affordable you can try Hotel de la Courone. It’s not as new as Le Dahu, but it is a little easier on the budget.

Finally, for a great hostel recommendation we recommend Gite Le Belvedere. The hostel has free Wi-Fi and a top-notch location. There are lots of smaller rooms inside with a varied numbers of beds. The coffee is good too.

There are lots of places in Les Houches, which is more reasonably priced and caters well to families. Airbnb.com has many great options for Les Houches.

For something more affordable in Les Houches, you can try the Rocky Pop Hotel. This is great for families. The rooms are very hip and modern. The restaurant can do gourmet burgers or traditional French cuisine. It’s a larger place and for less experienced travelers (no shame in that) they make everything very easy.

We enjoyed Le Chalet de Pascaline in Les Houches. It’s a mid-range B&B in a charming local home. The hosts and cuisine make you feel like you’re part of the town. It’s a little dated, but not run down (hence the adjective “charming”).

Itching to hike? Why not camp by one of our most intense hikes in the area? Try Camping Le Grand Champ if you want direct access to our hike, La Jonction. The Campsite has 24-hour hot showers and a nice covered dining area with free Wi-Fi.

Finally, we can’t recommend hiking to a Refuge highly enough. We list the closest refuges in many of our hikes for this region, so consider a 1-night refuge visit. Staying in the mountains makes a trip so much more special.

Hiking Along the Summit
Hiking Along the Summit
Alpine Tarn near Chamonix
Alpine Tarn near Chamonix

BEST RESTAURANTS IN CHAMONIX

Truthfully, it is hard to list the best restaurants in the Chamonix Valley. The food throughout the valley is very good to great. It’s rare that we try a restaurant and have a bad experience, nevertheless, here is our attempt at listing our favourites.

Beware that many restaurants adjust their hours and may close outside of the main winter ski season and summer (July and August).

Let’s start in Chamonix, and let’s start with something everyone can enjoy. Our favourite reasonably priced dinner spot is La Tablée. They have great French classics like French onion soup and fondue. They steak there is also excellent. The restaurant is well located and well priced.

The most fun, cheap eats place in the whole Chamonix region is Cool Cats Restaurant. They do amazing hot dogs, fries, and other street food hits. The place is hip and unique and the food is crazy good. This is a must for anyone who likes a good hotdog.

For a fancier meal try the restaurant in Le Vert Hotel. It’s a French based menu, but the chef uses lots of influences to keep the menu du jour exciting. The prices aren’t as high as the next restaurant we’ll mention, but we still consider this fine dining. From the bar and terrace you can see Mont Blanc.

We believe the nicest meal in Chamonix is Le Maison Carrier in the Hameau Albert 1er hotel. It’s a country style restaurant, but don’t let the rustic look fool you. This place has two Michelin stars. It’s a foodie’s heaven to be sure.

Make sure to check out Le 3842 for lunch if you’re taking the trip up to the Aiguille du Midi. The restaurant gets its name from the altitude from where it sits. The food is surprisingly well valued, but the best part is the views.

In Argentière the options aren’t as vast as Chamonix, but it is France after all, so there’s good food everywhere you look. A great little café in town is Tête à Thé. They have quiche, baked goods, and little salads. We love going here for lunch or breakfast.

For a cheap bar with good food try Les Marmottons. It’s at the bottom of the slopes, which is great for skiers. It’s also open in summer as well. It is simple French bites at a good price.

If you’re looking for a fancier dinner in Argentiere we have two options. The cheaper option is La P’tite Verte. This is honestly one of the best values in Argentiere, but you will need a reservation. The food is wonderful and not too fancy. For fine dining you’ll want to go to La Remise. They have amazing entrees, like aged steak, as well as a tasting menu.

We’re going to stick with the idea of Les Houches being perfect for a more budget conscious trip, so the restaurants are here are well valued and most are good for kids. For a great dinner after an active day take the family to La Ferme des Agapes. It’s a big, old tavern with cheese fondue and these great mini-BBQs that they can bring to your table (on which you typically cook beef and turkey). It’s hardy and delicious French mountain cooking. If you happen to be on the Ski hill in Les Houches stop by Les Vieilles Luges. It’s midway down the hill and the restaurant is in an old farmhouse. They have good food and a great atmosphere.

Sometimes you just need a pizza, even when you’re visiting France. Well, good news is the best cheap eats in Les Houches is Pizza Lou Vio. It’s the best option in Les Houches, but not our best cheap eats option on the whole list. This is good if you get back to Les Houches and don’t feel like bussing back into Chamonix.

And finally, we think the best restaurant in Les Houches is Le Delice. This is certainly an awesome restaurant, but it’s not something gastronomically over the top (although those aren’t necessarily bad things). What’s nice about Le Delice is that you can have a great fancy dinner, but you could also bring the kids. They do have a few items on a kid’s menu.

Autumn in Chamonix
Autumn in Chamonix
The View from the Above
The View from the Above

THINGS TO DO IN CHAMONIX

When you’re in Chamonix and you’re not hiking most people just find ways to soak in the natural beauty without the physical excursion. We totally get it. Not everyone can do a big hike everyday. The solutions of things to do in Chamonix are vast and wonderful. The best part is that for 63 euros you can get a pass for a bunch of lifts and sight seeing activities. Here’s what we loved most from that list.

First, you can, wait you MUST take the cable car up to the viewpoint at Aiguille du Midi. The oxygen can be a little thin (nothing extreme) at the top, but the views are jaw dropping. While you’re there make sure to go up the elevator and “Step into the Void.” This section of the visitor centre lets you stand over a see through floor, which is always great for photos. In the visitor’s centre there is also some historical background on the surrounding area.

The next sight seeing adventure is the Brévent Cable Car. The Brévent area is beautiful (as a side note, we have two hikes near that area: Lac Cornu and Gran Balcon Sud).

The final low-impact, mountain adventure is the Montevers – Mer de Glace Train. This train takes you up to the Mer de Glace glacier and from there you can take a few hundred steps down into the ice cave. This part is especially mesmerizing.

If you’re after some traditional European sightseeing visit the Eglise Saint Michel in Chamonix. A seasoned European traveler might not find it out of the ordinary, but we’ve found that if you stop here in the early morning, when the dawn’s light breaks through the stained glass, it can extraordinarily serene. It’s a beautiful and quaint church.

If you got some older kids and teens with you, you might need some adventure activities to mix in with the hikes. Now there are plenty of mountains to ski on in the winter, but in the summer you can visit the Chamonix Parc d’Attractions. The majority of the summer activities might be suited for younger kids, but we think their luge alpine coaster is fun for nearly all ages!

If that’s not their style, some people love to try paragliding (though we’re too scared to try, to be honest)! You may not have considered attempting this, but beginners ride tandem with a professional, so it’s quite manageable.

View from the Col de Balme
View from the Col de Balme
Hiking in French Alps
Hiking in French Alps

DANGERS WHEN HIKING IN Chamonix

  • Weather can change quickly. Make sure to bring multiple layers.
  • Always bring sunglasses, a hat and wear sunscreen—even in winter. The sun at the alpine altitude is very strong.
  • Storms are common in the mountains. The storms can also come out of nowhere, especially on hot summer days. At the first signs of a storm, get down off any ridges and away from waterways. Make sure to avoid any pole-like structure or solitary trees.
  • Fog and low clouds can fill in fast on the mountain. Stay on the signed paths when this happens and bring a rescue whistle with you as well as maps and some form of compass.
  • In especially sloped areas watch out for slippery wet grass and small rockslides from hikes above you.
  • While not an extreme danger, the big white Great Pyrenees dogs that guard the sheep in the area may look like oversized golden retrievers, but these dogs are trained to protect their flock. Keep that in mind. Some people have gotten bit in the past.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CHAMONIX

  • Mont Blanc meaning. Mont Blanc, or Monte Bianco, means “The White Mountain”.

  • Chamonix pronunciation. Although every region in France pronounces Chamonix a bit differently, the most common Chamonix pronunciation is Sham-on-EE.

  • Chamonix altitude. Chamonix resort altitude is averagely at 1035m. The elevation difference in the Chamonix region is between 995m–4810m.

  • The Aiguille du Midi lift. If you’re planning on skiing, avoid hotels that advertise proximity to the to the Aiguille du Midi lift. That lift does not take you to any groomed runs. The Aiguille du Midi is great, however, for the summer because that viewpoint is something you don’t want to miss.

  • Try asking for south facing views when booking your room. The south rooms are most likely to have views on Mont Blanc
  • English is pretty common in the are due to the large amount of tourists this area sees especially during ski season

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Opening & Closing dates for Campgrounds, Beaches, and Forest Roads at Tahoe South

The Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, has announced targeted opening dates for recreational facilities in the Lake Tahoe Basin this season.

Weather and snow conditions permitting, Baldwin and Nevada beaches will be the first sites to open on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

The Taylor Creek Visitor Center opens Saturday, May 25, 2019. The Tallac Historic Site parking area opens Monday, May 13, 2019, and will be staffed beginning May 25.

The following is a list of opening/service dates, weather and snow conditions permitting:

Campgrounds/Resorts
Round Hill Pines Resort – May 15
Meeks Bay Resort, William Kent, Kaspian – May 23
Fallen Leaf, and Nevada Beach campgrounds – May 10
Camp Richardson RV Park, Eagles Nest, and Badgers Den campgrounds – May 24
Luther Pass Campground and Angora Resort – May 25
Blackwood Canyon and Watson Lake campgrounds – June 1
South Lake Tahoe Camping | Photo: @keeptahoe.local

Day-Use Areas
Baldwin and Nevada beaches – April 27, 2019
Chimney Beach ..

US Forest Service Shield

The Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, has announced targeted opening dates for recreational facilities in the Lake Tahoe Basin this season.

Weather and snow conditions permitting, Baldwin and Nevada beaches will be the first sites to open on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

The Taylor Creek Visitor Center opens Saturday, May 25, 2019. The Tallac Historic Site parking area opens Monday, May 13, 2019, and will be staffed beginning May 25.

The following is a list of opening/service dates, weather and snow conditions permitting:

Fallen Leaf Lake Campground

Campgrounds/Resorts

  • Round Hill Pines Resort – May 15
  • Meeks Bay Resort, William Kent, Kaspian – May 23
  • Fallen Leaf, and Nevada Beach campgrounds – May 10
  • Camp Richardson RV Park, Eagles Nest, and Badgers Den campgrounds – May 24
  • Luther Pass Campground and Angora Resort – May 25
  • Blackwood Canyon and Watson Lake campgrounds – June 1

Hammock South Lake Tahoe Camping

South Lake Tahoe Camping | Photo: @keeptahoe.local

Day-Use Areas

Before recreation sites can fully open to the public, the Forest Service must hire crews and staff to manage the sites, clean up from winter, remove safety hazards and wait for the danger of a freeze to pass before turning on water systems, according to the agency.

Forest visitors should exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings as they enjoy the outdoors. Hazards to watch for include trees that may have recently died and/or sustained damage over the winter.

While recreation area grounds are open year-round, but parking, trash removal and restroom facilities are not available during winter. The Forest Service instructs visitors to pack out all trash and until parking areas open, park your vehicle off the roadway, avoid parking on vegetation and do not block access gates.

Pets are not allowed on designated swim beaches. Only leashed, service dogs are allowed entry to developed beaches. The Forest Service reminds dog owners to always clean up after their animal, including properly disposing of pet waste bags.

Tahoe beaches are popular and parking areas tend to fill up quickly when weather conditions are good, per the Forest Service. Plan accordingly and carpool, take public transportation or develop alternate transportation solutions.

Click here for a complete list of planned opening dates.

For more information, contact the Forest Supervisor’s office at 530-543-2600, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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Tahoe South in Spring: 4 Outdoor Activities Your Group Can’t Miss

Picture it: Tahoe South; springtime; the snow melting away; the Sierras skirted with fresh shades of green and yellow and crystal-clear waters for miles. It’s one of the country’s most scenic natural playgrounds, and your meeting attendees get to explore it all.

Check out these top outdoor spring activities to add to your meeting in Tahoe South.

1. Waterfall Hikes

Spring is the best time to get outside and onto a hiking trail here. The water flows rapidly as the snow melts during spring runoff, which means epic (and Insta-memorable) waterfall views along some of Tahoe’s best trails! Your group will find hikes for every skill level in and around Tahoe South. Here’s a list of our five favorite waterfalls.

2. Clear Kayak Tours

Take a guided tour of the lake on a transparent kayak! This luxury experience lets your group glide over the second deepest lake in the U.S. and experience incredible views all day long. If you’re planning for meetings all day, no problem. Your group can st..

Picture it: Tahoe South; springtime; the snow melting away; the Sierras skirted with fresh shades of green and yellow and crystal-clear waters for miles. It’s one of the country’s most scenic natural playgrounds, and your meeting attendees get to explore it all.

Check out these top outdoor spring activities to add to your meeting in Tahoe South.

1. Waterfall Hikes

Spring is the best time to get outside and onto a hiking trail here. The water flows rapidly as the snow melts during spring runoff, which means epic (and Insta-memorable) waterfall views along some of Tahoe’s best trails! Your group will find hikes for every skill level in and around Tahoe South. Here’s a list of our five favorite waterfalls.

2. Clear Kayak Tours

Take a guided tour of the lake on a transparent kayak! This luxury experience lets your group glide over the second deepest lake in the U.S. and experience incredible views all day long. If you’re planning for meetings all day, no problem. Your group can still experience the lake at night on an LED glow tour or LED stargazing tour.

3. Mountain Biking

Tahoe South has legendary mountain biking trails for those in your group looking to explore some new terrain. They’ll take in views of the famed Emerald Bay while biking along the 72 miles of scenic trails on the Lake Tahoe loop. Our town is a bike-friendly community, so you’ll find plenty of locally owned bike shops to help with all of your rentals and biking needs. From advanced trails such as the Flume Trail to relaxing rides on the lake basin, you’ll find no shortage of mountain biking activities. Here are the six most popular bike trails.

4. Lake Cruises

There’s no better chaser to a day (or few days) of business than one of Tahoe South’s unforgettable lake cruises. Attendees can relax and unwind as they breathe in the fresh Lake Tahoe breeze. There are cruises to fit every schedule, so whether you’re enjoying the sunshine, watching the sunset over Emerald Bay and Vikingsholm Castle or grabbing dinner on an evening cruise, there’s never a wrong time to be out on the water here.

If you’re interested in booking a meeting in Tahoe South this spring, drop our team a line or check out more activities for your group on this list.

The post Tahoe South in Spring: 4 Outdoor Activities Your Group Can’t Miss appeared first on Tahoe South.

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