The Great Western Loop passes through many of the most pristine and cherished wild lands in the Lower 48, including 12 National Parks and over 75 wilderness areas. It features a spectacular range of landscapes — high and low deserts, canyons, sky islands, alpine and tundra, volcanoes, rainforests, and prairie — and it could occupy several lifetime’s worth of backcountry checklists.
The most recognizable highlights of the Great Western Loop are its twelve National Parks: Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Yosemite, Lassen Volcanic, Crater Lake, Rainier, North Cascades, Glacier, Yellowstone, and Rocky Mountain. Cumulatively these Parks encapsulate the best of America’s West.
Besides the National Parks, the avid backcountry enthusiast is equally drawn to the Great Western Loop for its near-continuous corridor of wilderness areas, national monuments, national forests, and BLM lands that are located between the national parks. These lightly-traveled and non-commercialized areas allow one to fully immerse themselves in wilderness and to really “get away from it all” in the truest sense.
Included among the more than seventy-five (that’s right, more than 75!) wilderness areas accessed by the Great Western Loop, are: San Jacinto, San Gabriel, John Muir, Desolation, Three Sisters, Goat Rocks, Pasayten, Bob Marshall, Brider & Fitzpatrick (Wind Rivers), Mount Zirkel, Indian Peaks, Collegiate Peaks, La Garita, Weminuche, South San Juan, Gila, Superstition, and Four Peaks.