Where to go, last minute, early August, with wife, for 2 weeks, with no backcountry permits?

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Preference is Banff / Assiniboine / Yoho but the border may still be closed and if it's not there might be too many restrictions in place....I'm not quarantining for 2 weeks when I only have 2 weeks! Then the crapshoot with last minute permits to preferred spots!

Next choice is Glacier NP but the crapshoot with last minute permits to preferred spots!

Next choice is Yellowstone but the crapshoot with last minute permits to preferred spots!

Next choice is Olympic but the crapshoot with last minute permits to preferred spots!

This is where people would recommend wilderness areas in national forests....which in some instances might be nice but not nearly as nice as the above, and where it might be (The Thorofare) I'd rather not go back in there with my wife with nobody else around...sorry, there is something comforting about the assurances of having a few others around in wilderness like this - I know that's up for debate but I'd fall on "won't go so far into wilderness with nobody else around with just my wife".

So I think this comes down to which place I'd rather go, perhaps doing day hikes while I try my luck every morning at the backcountry permit office until I luck out.

Another thing to consider is affordable lodging nearby if "front country" campsites are unavailable....How far away will I have to travel to find something available each day, day to day, hoping backcountry campsites come available? Will the logistics work?

Also, by the time we get to August, unfortunately I think we may have to consider the drought, heat and what areas may be on fire.

Another thing that wouldn't be too terrible either....I'm 53 and I hope to retire somewhere out west in 10 years or so...and I have no idea where. I always thought I could figure it out on vacations in the next 10 years or so, but if my goal is spending so much time in backcountry when on vacation, and it is, I'm not really getting to know too many towns outside these national parks, national forests and ski areas. I'm thinking about living in a van or RV for a few years after retirement as I move around a lot and hopefully the obvious place jumps out at me.

Anyhow, probably have more thoughts but there should be enough here to get a discussion going.

Hope you ladies and gentleman are having a great outdoors filled summer.
 
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What do you think would be more beautiful - backpacking the heart of Olympic NP, which might not have backcountry campsite permit restrictions OR the Coal Creek / Nyack Creek area of Glacier NP, which might not have backcountry campsite permit restrictions?
 

OldBill

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I shared that dream of retiring out west. Spent 20 years checking out options. Lots of factors, including winters, "fitting in", etc. Finally decided it's easier to keep visiting. Lots of fun looking.

That quarantine requirement even if vaccinated is insane. Was hoping to see Banff and Jasper next year, even with all the hassle of permits, limited campsites and crowds. Same hassle applies to NP's in US too. Another reason I love the Winds. Interested to see the suggestions made on the thread.

Have a great trip no matter what you decide!
 
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Why are you focusing on all the popular places where everybody else goes?

I don't know if if that's just a coincidence! I guess the cat is out of the bag about where the nicest places are and that happens to be where everybody else wants to go!
 

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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Yellowstone backcountry permits shouldn't be too difficult if you have a little flexibility. Some of the highest use campsites might be taken, but they don't seem to regularly fill up like many other popular parks. I've only not gotten my first choice trip once (w/ some campsite flexibility), but even then I still got my second choice - and that was on a Labor Day weekend. There's so many good options there, you're bound to find something.

You are massively selling national forests short if you think they can't be every bit as impressive as national parks. No part of the Wind River Range is in a national park, which kills that notion instantly. The Beartooths are another non-park option that comes to mind - something like the Beaten Path could be a good option if you want a (kind of) pre-made route.

Everyone has different opinions and methods for sparking inspiration, but I'd rate this map of Wilderness Areas of the United States as a better indicator of my personal enjoyment than national park status. (Though obviously there's some pretty spectacular areas not included in that category either.)
 
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Yellowstone backcountry permits shouldn't be too difficult if you have a little flexibility. Some of the highest use campsites might be taken, but they don't seem to regularly fill up like many other popular parks. I've only not gotten my first choice trip once (w/ some campsite flexibility), but even then I still got my second choice - and that was on a Labor Day weekend. There's so many good options there, you're bound to find something.

You are massively selling national forests short if you think they can't be every bit as impressive as national parks. No part of the Wind River Range is in a national park, which kills that notion instantly. The Beartooths are another non-park option that comes to mind - something like the Beaten Path could be a good option if you want a (kind of) pre-made route.

Everyone has different opinions and methods for sparking inspiration, but I'd rate this map of Wilderness Areas of the United States as a better indicator of my personal enjoyment than national park status. (Though obviously there's some pretty spectacular areas not included in that category either.)

I tend to like lush areas - more green than granite - and so after seeing many pictures of the Winds and Beartooths those areas are further down my list. Having said that if I could find more green areas like Slough Creek (Yellowstone near Beartooths) inside the Beartooths I'd be more interested.
 

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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I tend to like lush areas - more green than granite - and so after seeing many pictures of the Winds and Beartooths those areas are further down my list. Having said that if I could find more green areas like Slough Creek (Yellowstone near Beartooths) inside the Beartooths I'd be more interested.
There's plenty of green in the Winds - it takes a while to climb out of it, even if you prefer the rocks.

But congrats on being the first to say the phrase: "...after seeing many pictures of the Winds and Beartooths those areas are further down my list." ;)
 

Rockskipper

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I don't know if if that's just a coincidence! I guess the cat is out of the bag about where the nicest places are and that happens to be where everybody else wants to go!
Sorry, but your answer doesn’t even make sense. It’s like something Yogi Berra would say.
 

Rockskipper

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The keyword here is among. There are lots of places, I mean tons of places, that are absolutely gorgeous and are free of the madding crowd. They just take a little more doing to get there and you don’t have the security of people and Rangers and maintained trails and all that. The people who stick to the same old places are usually too lazy or rushed to do their own research - or maybe they’re too afraid. This forum has already given you tons and tons of advice. Maybe it’s time to implement it and find your own way. It’s much more rewarding than asking over and over again where to go.

I’ll add that I have never in all my hiking and backpacking gotten a backcountry permit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there is just so much to see without going places where you need one. I prefer places where I won’t see other people, and places requiring backcountry permits usually mean other people. Ironically enough. Most of the western United States does not require permits to hike or backpack.
 
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OldBill

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Well, they're National Parks for a reason! I try to enjoy them with less crowds, but there's different views on that too as shoulder season weather can be iffy. I love the solitude I get backpacking the wilderness of the Winds but my gf just loves a stay in GTNP campgrounds. So, we do both.

Yeah, a heap of rock in the Winds, but dropping down into most drainages gets you a lot of green. I prefer hiking high and sleeping low whenever possible.
 

Jackson

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There is plenty of lush and green with absolutely gobsmacking scenery in most wilderness areas from Colorado north through Canada. Really hard to narrow it down here without more criteria.

You want to be out for two weeks straight? Go somewhere huge like the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, or the Teton and Washakie Wildernesses.

I honestly think you'd like the Winds a ton. There is plenty of greenery all over, and like people have said, you have to put in lots of miles in the forest to get up to the rocky parts. Look into starting at Green River Lakes. It's a lot greener down in there, and the approaches up to rockier parts are pretty long. Also being up above treeline is awesome and offers something different than being down in the forest and meadows.

Another idea is the North Cascades. Lots of thick forest and big vertical peaks. I don't know how the permit situation goes in there, but I get the impression that aside from a few areas, it's not a terribly crowded place to go backpacking. I may be completely wrong on that though.

Last idea is the Uintas. The Highline Trail would keep you busy for a while, and it has lots of green forests and high alpine meadows.

There are really so many options, and I believe with 100% honesty that they're just as good as Glacier and Yellowstone, if not better because you don't have to go through the permit process and often don't have to be around as many people.
 

Rockskipper

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Hey, a good friend just gave me an idea, though I’m not sure he meant to. Since I have a lot of extensive backcountry experience (though some is admittedly mythological) and am from the mythical West, I’ve been thinking about starting my own guiding business. I’m going to call it Gentle Adventures and it will be for people like you who want to get out but don’t have the time to really research things. @scatman @outdoorfool and some others who are even more knowledgeable than I am will possibly come along or at the very least advise us.

Each guided trip will provide gourmet food (including circus peanuts) and will come completely equipped with everything you need. All you have to do is show up with a big wad of cash. You and your wife can be our first clients. Since it will be the first trip out, I’ll give you a good discount.

We’ll start out small to slowly build up your confidence. Since people love national parks, our first trek will probably be something along the lines of walking the boardwalk around old faithful. Don’t laugh, it can be really scary when the crowds start running to catch the next eruption. From there we’ll build up to more courageous things like wading in the Snake River near Flagg Ranch, which will give you a taste of both Yellowstone and the Tetons. From there, we’ll visit the grizzly bear refuge on top of Bozeman Pass where the bears are almost within reach and you can smell their breath (and the rest of them).

These are just the beginning get your toes in the water type things. We’ll gradually branch out until you’re fearless and can even do things like drive over Beartooth Pass.

It will be a life-changing experience, guaranteed. Life insurance will be included in the cost. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll run some numbers by you. Some of this will of course depend on what the advisers want from the deal.
 
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RyanP

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Everyone here is sending the wrong message! You should definitely just stick to the national parks. None of the other wilderness areas are nearly as good----they are not national parks for a reason. If you want to see the best scenery, I would recommend that everyone just stick to the big-name national parks.
 

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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Everyone here is sending the wrong message! You should definitely just stick to the national parks. None of the other wilderness areas are nearly as good----they are not national parks for a reason. If you want to see the best scenery, I would recommend that everyone just stick to the big-name national parks.
Come to think of it, NatGeo and PBS both have some great documentaries on the national parks - better than the real thing even. Might as well just stay home altogether. ;)
 
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