The Best Solo Outdoors Trips to Take This Summer

From cycling through the Redwoods to surfing in Montauk.
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Embracing the independence of solo travel is what a summer getaway is all about, whether you’re on the ground, in the water, or on the road. But before you go all Cheryl Strayed and pack to march up the Pacific Crest Trail, keep in mind that this particular excursion is best planned for months-long soul searchers, and not a quick summer trip. Still, there’s plenty you can do with your alone time off before Labor Day.

The biggest thing to consider about solo travel is that it doesn’t come without risks—particularly for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ folks. There are a number of things you can do to make your adventure safer. First, share your itinerary with a few trusted folks before you leave. Even if you’re attempting to go off the grid, check in with someone every few days. Hunter Hall, an outdoors expert and wilderness guide, suggests that solo travelers have a satellite communication device, like a Garmin InReach or Zolio, which can help you communicate with anyone no matter where you are. He also recommends enrolling in a wilderness first aid course to learn the necessary skills for helping yourself and assisting others in a pinch (you can find one through The National Outdoor Leadership School).

If you’re looking for some destination inspiration, we’ve got you. Here’s where to book some much deserved solo time in the United States this summer, based on your activity of choice.

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Backpacking in Sequoia National Park

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Backpacking: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

These connected national parks in California offer plenty to explore and are known for being home to the world’s largest trees. For your first solo hiking trip, Hall recommends these parks (called SeKi by those in-the-know), which are only a few hours from Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Las Vegas. Each has well-trafficked, well-maintained trails that are doable over a long weekend or week. For novices, Hall recommends the Rae Lakes Loop, which takes on average four to five days. “There are plenty of backpackers, but you can keep your distance if you want,” Hall says. “But if something happens, help isn’t far away.” An avid adventurist, he notes that inexperienced solo travelers are the top reason search and rescue teams are dispersed.

For more advanced backpackers, Hall recommends the ambitious King’s Canyon High Basin Route or Yosemite High Route. Both are remote, with off-trail hiking opportunities. But keep in mind that with this added solitude comes more planning and more logistics, like heavier hiking packs with more food, camping gear, and water. For camping and permits for Sequoia and Kings Canyon, visit

Cycling: The Pacific Coast, from Vancouver to Santa Barbara

Feeling the wind in your hair, a helmet on your head, and the open road ahead of you makes for an impossibly perfect summer day. “Embrace the fullness of independence,” says Laura Killingbeck, who has cycled and hiked over 13,000 miles across four continents—mostly solo. “Biking alone is a great way to deepen your connection to the world around you,” she says. “Allow for the possibility that being alone may not feel lonely at all.” She also recommends adapting a growth mindset for self reliance: learn the basics of bike repair before you go.

One of Killingbeck’s first long distance rides was along the Pacific Coast Route, as mapped by the Adventure Cycling Association. “This is a beautiful summer ride that takes you through stunning redwood forests and along gorgeous beaches,” Killingbeck says. “A lot of solo cyclists ride this route, so it's easy to meet new people and make cycling friends." The route starts in Vancouver, with the first stretch running 414 miles to Astoria, Oregon. The 1,853-mile route is split into five maps, so you can pick which section appeals to you if taking on the entire coast sounds intimidating. The average person can cycle about 60 miles per day, so just one stretch can take a week. Know your pace and physical boundaries before you go to ensure a smooth ride.

Rafting in the Grand Canyon  

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Rafting: The Grand Canyon 

The Grand Canyon during the summer months may evoke a rush of fear: Big crowds, big heat, big prices. But solo travelers have the advantage here, especially if you want to descend into the Canyon and take your selfie stick on a real adventure. Avid solo traveler Hanna Ashcraft booked a multi-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon last year and had the time of her life. “Compared to my backpacking adventures, having someone else cook my meals and being able to sleep on a cot while looking up at the stars between the canyon walls each night felt like luxury,” she says. “With hiking opportunities, endless canyon views, adrenaline-filled white water, and camaraderie around camp, I would recommend this trip to nearly anyone.” Having a group to venture through the river with was a social plus, and the expertise of guides was essential. Ashcraft booked with Grand Canyon Whitewater and had such a good experience that she’s gearing up for another solo rafting trip on the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River with ROW Adventures. For rafting, she recommends packing garments that regulate body temperature and sun protections, like rain gear, quick-dry clothing, long-sleeved clothing, and comfortable sleepwear like a beanie and sleep mask.

Surfing: Montauk, New York

California and Hawaii are the obvious year-round options for surf-cations, but take advantage of warmer waters and breezy climates on the East Coast for your solo surfing getaway. Why Montauk? “Montauk, at the far end of Long Island, is known to have the best breaks on the East Coast and has long been held as a surfer’s paradise,” says Philip Cham, Hospitality Director at Bridgeton Holdings. “Montauk still has the grit that comes with nomadic surf culture.”

Never surfed, or need to brush up your skills? Corey’s Wave, Engstrom Surf, and East End Surf Club all offer private and group lessons, plus equipment.

For overnight stays, you’ve got options. Pick from campsites at Hither Hills State Park, motels, and full- or partial-house rentals. You can also opt for an upscale resort-like accommodation like the Marram Montauk, which has a surf shack on property and is situated on the Terrace surf break. Plus, they host nightly activities like stargazing and campfire discussions, which can add a little socialization to your solo-cation.

End the trip on a high note: If you’re traveling through New York City on your way out east, plan a detour to Rockaway Beach, where solo surfing is a common pre-work activity for many New Yorkers.