When Mike and Helen ventured on their first trip across the Rocky Mountain West and up into the Pacific Northwest, they had the brilliant realization that in order to best serve the country’s adventurous youth, they would have to invest in permits for commercial access to the country’s most beautiful wilderness areas and national parks. Obtaining these permits takes quite a lot of work, though keeping the permit involves year after year of dedicated management, both on the administrative side and in the field. In order to keep these coveted permits, Wilderness Adventures staff and students must be respectful stewards of the environment, demonstrating only the best Leave No Trace ethics: leaving only footprints, taking only photographs. Currently, Wilderness Adventures has a number of exclusive permits in various national parks and wilderness areas in the U.S. Read on to find out more about five of these incredible places that no other youth-focused outdoor adventure company has access to! These are just some of what we call “Our Last Best Places.” Only Wilderness Adventures can guarantee you the finest adventures into these most incredible locations.
The Beartooth Wilderness
Wilderness Adventures has had exclusive access to this rugged wilderness area in south-central Montana and northwest Wyoming since 1974. It is a part of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, comprises 900,000 acres, and lies within the Shoshone, Custer, and Gallatin National Forests. If you are lucky enough to be traveling through the northeastern edge of Yellowstone National Park or looking for wolves in the Lamar Valley, you will see the Beartooths looming Himalaya-esque to the northeast. These mountains are home to an incredible array of flora and fauna; so much so, that they are considered the most biologically diverse mountain range in North America. Grizzly bears, black bears, mountain goats, lynx, bighorn sheep, wolverine, elk, moose, and mountain lion all make their home in the Beartooth Mountains. They also contain the highest point in Montana, Granite Peak. Mike reports that his “first trip into the Beartooths was the finest backpacking trip” of his life. These mountains remain a hidden gem of the Rocky Mountain West, as trips into this area rarely see another person. If you’re itching to explore these rocky peaks and crystal blue high-mountain lakes, you’ll have to join us on either the Montana Wyoming or Montana Fly Fishing trips.
Wilderness Adventures has been adventuring to Chichagof Island since 1990. The island lies within the Tongass National Forest of southeast Alaska and is part of the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. Both Alaska Southeast and Alaska Service have the lucky opportunity to camp on this island while sea kayaking. The waters surrounding Chichagof Island are teeming with wildlife. Only with Wilderness Ventures will you have the opportunity to kayak amongst the humpbacks and orcas. You’ll see tons of bald eagles, sea otters, and sea lions! At night, you’ll fall asleep to the crooning of the whales while they take part in their nighttime feeding rituals.
Three Sisters Wilderness
Wilderness Adventures has had the incredible opportunity of backpacking this Wilderness Area since our very first trip in 1973. It is the second largest wilderness area in Oregon, named for the three volcanoes that dominate its landscape, the Three Sisters. It houses 14 glaciers and 40 miles of the magnificent Pacific Crest Trail. Lush pines and mosses cover the vast majority of the wilderness, alongside beautiful alpine meadows and starkly green high mountain lakes that will likely be spotted with chunks of snow and ice all year round. On our Oregon, Oregon Cascades, and Northwest trips, you can venture into the Three Sisters and see it just as Mike and Helen did 42 years ago. You will also have the chance of hiking to the top of the South Sister! At 10,358 feet, the tallest and “youngest” of the three volcanoes, you will tower above the landscape around you, with views of a number of glaciers and the highest lake in Oregon!
Grand Teton National Park
Similar to the Three Sisters, Wilderness Adventures has been backpacking in Grand Teton National Park since our first summer in 1973. It is our own backyard, and we are proud to say that no other similar company has the access or the knowledge of this breathtaking national park. The Tetons are one of the most photographed mountain ranges in the entire world. One glimpse and you will undoubtedly be seduced by their grandeur and stark, rugged peaks. Every trip in the Jackson area will venture into this mountainous, glacier-carved landscape for at least a few days, whether it be for just a day hike or to backpack the famed Teton Crest Trail. We have also sent over 2,300 students up to the summit of the Grand Teton! Join us this summer on our Grand Teton or Montana Wyoming trips and you could be added to that list!
Glacier Peak Wilderness
Wilderness Adventures has been fortunate enough to be backpacking in this rugged and aptly named wilderness area since 1974. Bordering North Cascades National Park, this remote landscape holds over 60 miles of Pacific Crest Trail and some of the best rock climbing and peak-bagging in the country. Grizzly bears, wolverines, and gray wolves freely roam the 566,057 acres of stark peaks, mountain lakes, streams, and valleys. In summer you will find miles of huckleberries; and in this little-known wilderness area, you won’t have much competition for stuffing yourself silly with these delicious summer berries! Some simple internet research will quickly uncover the stunning photo of Image Lake that has been a classic backdrop for Wilderness Adventures’ catalog shots for the past 4 decades.