Base for 7-10 days of day hiking in US, solo woman

Travel Forums North America Base for 7-10 days of day hiking in US, solo woman

1. Posted by SoloWalker (Budding Member 3 posts) 1w Star this if you like it!

Hi all,

Forgive me, this is going to be a somewhat generic question, but I need some help in narrowing my options.

I'll be in the US for 7-10 days in September 2021 and would love to find a good base for moderate day hikes.

I am a woman, will be traveling solo, and will have a car. Somewhere in the western US would work out best for my plans, but I'm open to other options.

I'd love to find a place where I can stay in 1-2 base locations and find a variety of day hikes in the area, perhaps a national park.

Any thoughts to get me started in my search? Thanks for you help!

2. Posted by road to roam (Travel Guru 1054 posts) 1w Star this if you like it!

New Mexico is a good recommendation - the variety of countryside (plains, alpine-like mountains and lakes, desert canyons, badlands, etc) makes for great hiking in my opinion. Albuquerque is a nice base, or try the Pecos Wilderness; there are many camping and rental options here along the Pecos River, so this is also a good base. From the Pecos area, Santa Fe and Taos are a few hours away. The town of Ruidoso is also a great base for hikes.

There are also quite a few hike-in hot springs to recommend - there's even an interesting spa town in New Mexico called Truth or Consequences (T or C). Many hotels and airbnbs in this town feature in-room tubs with geothermally heated water from the springs - and it's a great base for all sorts of hikes.

[ Edit: Edited on 5 Jun 2021, 16:38 GMT by road to roam ]

3. Posted by SoloWalker (Budding Member 3 posts) 4d Star this if you like it!

Thanks so much for your message. I will check out that area.

Any other ideas very welcome to help me narrow down my options.

Thanks all.

4. Posted by goodfish (Full Member 255 posts) 4d Star this if you like it!

Hi Solowalker:
Moab, Utah is one of our favorite hiking bases in the Southwest. Located nearby are Arches National Park, and the Island In The Sky unit of Canyonlands National Park. You'd also have moderate local trekking opportunities of Fisher Towers (a personal favorite), Corona Arch, Hidden Valley, Grandstaff Canyon and more. Up for a bit of a drive? Head down to the Needles unit of Canyonlands for my top favorite area hike: Chesler Park + The Joint (or you can also just do Chesler as an in-and-out of 6 miles versus loop of 11).

Your one possible snag is Arches: crowds this year have been ridiculous, and they've been closing the park entrance as early as 7:30 AM almost every day since mid last month due to being at capacity. There has been been spillover to Island in Sky, which we've never experienced an entry line-up at so that's how busy the parks are.

This is not a problem if you can be up and out very early in the morning...which I'd suggest anyway to beat the heat. Last time we were there was in Sept. and it was plenty warm-to-hot by midday, and most hikes in the Moab area provide little shade so do the longest in the mornings. Doing some later in the day works as well, when it's cooler and the crowds have lightened. Key: drink lots of water! Lots. More than you think you'll need as it's a very arid climate.

New Mexico is good too although we're partial to Santa Fe. Not far away would be hiking at Bandelier National Monument, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (currently COVID closed but with any luck will be open again in the fall: Orilla Verde Recreation Area (include on a day trip to Taos) and some other stuff. We've done Chaco Canyon as a long day trip from S.F. but I will put emphasis on "long" as it's a 3-hour drive one way.

The cool thing about S.F. is all the cultural stuff around the region: lots of art, great pueblo-type architecture, regional food and COLOR: great base for exploring the area's indigenous-Spanish history and influences. It is, BTW, the oldest capital city in the U.S. (1610). If flying into/out of Albuquerque, you could base there for a few nights too and do Sandia Crest and Petroglyphs National Monument.

[ Edit: Edited on 12 Jun 2021, 15:22 GMT by goodfish ]

5. Posted by SoloWalker (Budding Member 3 posts) 4d Star this if you like it!

Thanks so much, goodfish. That's a lot of good information.

But, ouch! I can expect crowds in September? At least at Arches, from what you say, possibly others. Something to keep in mind.

Any other ideas more than welcome. Then I will need to make a decision!

Thanks everyone.

6. Posted by goodfish (Full Member 255 posts) 4d Star this if you like it!

There have been heavy crowds at the most-visited of the parks since March (Spring Break). A lot of that has to do with COVID restrictions finally easing + people being crazy to get outta Dodge. That travel abroad has largely been out of the question until just recently hasn't helped either.

Rocky Mountain NP (Colorado) is so overrun that they're requiring timed-entry permits and entry passes until Oct. 11 just to get into it. Same for accessing Going-To-The-Sun Road at Glacier (Montana) but that one only until Sept 6.

Yes, the kids will be back in school in Sept. but fall is a really busy season at the Southwestern parks because the temps start to moderate, especially at Utah's "Five 5". Temps out there lately have been in the triple digits, and many of the parks are under excessive heat and/or fire restriction warnings.

Use the NPS websites for lots of info on Arches, Canyonlands, Petroglyph, Bandelier. etc. Local (non-NPS) hiking opportunities will fall under different sites. If you decide to go anywhere near the big parks, I'd jump all over reservations for your accommodations as they've been booking up solid too.

[ Edit: Edited on 12 Jun 2021, 21:21 GMT by goodfish ]

7. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 3205 posts) 2d Star this if you like it!

"Any other ideas more than welcome. Then I will need to make a decision!"

Pull up the link for the Appalachian Trail

There are a few links you can Google up that have info on hiking alone. Sample below:

Look up Pro and Con for having bear spray with you.

Have fun.

8. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1511 posts) 1d Star this if you like it!

You might want to consider North Cascades National Park and the Mt. Baker Ski Area near Bellingham, Washington, north of Seattle. A friend and I yesterday hiked the Horseshoe Bend Trail on the Mt. Baker Road. The trail, with giant red cedar trees, skirts the raging North Fork of the Nooksack River. We're in Bellingham for four days before boarding the Alaska Ferry to Juneau. North Cascades National Park was not crowded.

In April I returned for a visit to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands national parks, plus Dead Horse Point State Park and Goosenecks State Park. Zion and Arches were the most crowded. A friend and I had reservations for the Zion shuttle. Capitol Reef and Canyonlands are my favorites. There also are a number of national monuments in the Southwest. They aren't as popular as the national parks.

You also might consider traveling along the US-395 corridor from Lone Pine to Bishop and perhaps beyond. I was there last year to hike Mt. Whitney, Horseshoe Meadow and the Alabama Hills. I returned this year to Lone Pine to show a friend around. We then drove from Lone Pine to Las Vegas via Death Valley National Park.

Last year I hiked Mt. Shasta in northern California and visited several national wildlife refuges in the area. They weren't crowded. In southern and central California I hiked Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park and Montana de Oro State Park near San Luis Obispo. They also weren't crowded.

9. Posted by goodfish (Full Member 255 posts) 1d Star this if you like it!

I'll second Capitol Reef: great hiking park and one I favor over Zion. Canyonlands, absolutely, but Needles over Island in the Sky, although IITS has a greater variety of easy/moderate hikes.

They are not requiring advance, timed-entry tickets for the Zion shuttles anymore, and from recent reports the place is sort of a zoo. Dead Horse Point (near Moab/Island in the Sky) is a nice little state park, as are Kodachrome Basin (near Bryce), Goblin Valley (near Hanksville; Little Wild Horse/Bell slot canyons are very nearby there too; can highly recommend) and Coral Pink Sand Dunes (near Kanab).

10. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1511 posts) 1d Star this if you like it!

Yes, the Needles section of Canyonlands is absolutely wonderful.