How to Plan a Backpacking Trip: Travel Deeper into Wyoming’s Wilderness with these Tips

Backpacking, or backcountry camping, is sometimes seen as an intimidating activity only meant for the extremely adventurous and in-shape. But the thing people don’t often talk about when it comes to this activity is how customizable it is. You can spend a few days backpacking in Grand Teton National Park or a few weeks exploring the Continental Divide Trail. You can plan to hike five miles each day, taking breaks to cast a line or read a book, or you can plan to hike 15 miles each day, covering a longer section of trail.

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Backpacking is only as challenging as you make it, so don’t be too quick to dismiss it as something you aren’t capable of doing. Anyone who enjoys camping and hiking can take on backpacking with a little know-how and preparation. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a backpacking trip.

Apply for Backcountry Permits

Many areas — especially within national parks and along popular trails — require backcountry permits for overnight trips. The use of permits helps limit the amount of foot traffic within specific regions in an effort to protect the area’s natural surroundings.

When it comes to obtaining permits, you either need to plan far in advance or take a chance at receiving a walk-in permit the day of your trip. It’s common to start applying for backcountry permits in January for trips that will be taken over the summer.

Before applying for any backcountry permits, you should have a rough idea of the route you would like to take, the dates you would like to would like to travel and the number of people who will be in your group. You can find more information about backcountry permits in Yellowstone National Park here and Grand Teton National Park here. Go here for more information about backpacking along the 550 miles of Continental Divide Trail within Wyoming.

Figure Out Travel Logistics

Once you’ve decided on a general route, you can begin planning more specific logistics of your backpacking trip. You might need to look into trailhead parking and shuttles in addition to standard transportation, especially if you plan on ending at a different trailhead from where you started. If your backpacking trip will last longer than a week, you will need to research food drop-off locations so you can mail yourself a food resupply.

Take a close look at your map and estimate the number of miles you plan to hike each day along with the general area in which you plan to camp each night. Your daily mileage should be based on your level of fitness, elevation changes day and other trails or points of interest you might want to explore. Be sure to work some extra days into your trip so you don’t need to rush if something unexpected happens. And as with any trip, it’s a good idea to share your group’s plans with friends and family as an added safety precaution.

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