THE WEST & SOUTHWEST
There's a romance and self-reliance to the West that no one else can touch. Maybe it's the gold rush and the cowboy spirit, but no matter what, it's definitely that vast, expansive landscape. Their national parks are undeniable, their views are staggering, and you can road trip for just about ever. Fair warning: you're going fall in love with these states and you won't know exactly why. From the Sierras to the desert, the ranches to the Rockies, we've also included the great Alaskan frontier plus those rich, island-vibes of Hawaii.
Good luck resisting.
This state is vast --- nearly 800 miles long -- and it has more magic than you'll know what to do with. With just about every terrain you can imagine, the Golden State is a dream for good reason: anything can happen. Find an old gold mining camp, hike-in to something epic on the PCT, fall for the Redwoods and the central coast, get lost soaking in hot springs, and discover what alien landscapes look like in the desert. There's nothing you can really say to capture it, but expect old Steinbeck worthy cabins plus a lot of very well-appointed modern meets bungalow vibes. It's all here, you just gotta find it.
The western side of the state is very different from the rest. There, you'll find Bozeman and Missoula, a lot of fire lookouts, Glacier, and some serious hike-ins. Montana is characteristically a self-sufficient human's dream and, while ranching is alive and well, you don't have to ride a horse to be at home. Known as Big Sky Country, there is nearly endless fly fishing (they have over 450 miles of blue-ribbon trout fishing), and plenty of creeks to find yourself in. Bring a beer and take in the view.
No matter how you put it, there's nothing casual about Alaska. It's the last frontier and genuinely rugged. If you aren't comfortable with your survival skills, consider something guided -- there are a lot of expert locals available for day, week, and extended hire. While Hawaii might be the climatic opposite of Alaska, it's just as stunning. It has "paradise" written all over it and you're going to find bungalows, hideaways, surf shacks, treehouses, and nearly every other kind of idyllic getaway you can imagine.
This is where things start to get weird in a good way. Arizona has the vortex of Sedona and the eco-living experiment of Arcosanti; New Mexico has primitive hot springs, Taos, and a lot of green chili peppers. Excellent neighbors, these states both boast a lot of open land (and seemingly endless driving), but we think you might be surprised by their beauty. After all, here's a lot of life in the desert if you know where to look. Consider cabins just as much as campouts for this region.
Get every single ounce of you ready for activity. There are so many national parks and places you won't think are real between these two states. With nearly endless cabins and way too many things to do, you're going to have a blast and check a lot of things off your bucket list. Off-grid hike-in or luxury lodge, you can kick it solo or bring the whole crew, and no matter what you do, you'll probably have a hard time going wrong. Pro tip: with so many options, it's best to know what you're looking for before you start browsing.