Michelle OlmsteadExplorer

Landscape, Wildlife, Travel, and Active Lifestyle Photographer from Utah. Wilderness Advocate. I enjoy running, hiking, cycling, camping, backpacking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Instagram @findmeonthemountain Email: findmeonthemountain@gmail.com

This hike is one of the most picturesque in the state. It's diverse too and includes waterfalls and forested areas, as well as beautiful views of the canyon and city below. It's a steep one so know your fitness level but the rewards are great! Start early if you need to go slow because much of this trail is exposed at the beginning. The lake is secluded and beautiful and makes a perfect spot to camp for the night. Please remember the principals of Leave No Trace and make sure that your campsite is at least 200 feet from the lake. There is absolutely no swimming allowed here since this is a watershed and fires are also not permitted.

This is a challenging hike so know your fitness, but the reward is great, with 360 degree views at the top, and gorgeous scenery along the entire hike. The back country of Antelope Island is gorgeous. At times you'd think you were in New Zealand, or even Africa! So different than down by the water and it's worth the effort to visit. There are several stops and lookout points along the Frary Peak trail, so even if you can't go the whole way, you will get beautiful views of White Rock Bay, and the surrounding mountains to the West and East. In Spring, the wildflowers along this trail are quite beautiful, and there are some cool, old junipers after the Radio Tower. This is an exposed hike, and it is best done in early Spring or Fall, although it's also fun in Winter!

First, do not attempt to do the Road to Hana in one day if you truly want to experience it's magic. There are so many wonderful beaches and hikes that two days minimum is required in my opinion. Staying in Hana allows you to take your time and truly enjoy this remote paradise. Second (and especially if you only have one day) start as early as possible! Especially if driving from west Maui. One tip we received that was helpful was to start at the top and work your way down. Most people do the opposite of course. There are too many wonderful spots to review here but the "Maui Revealed" books are very helpful with descriptions and tips for visiting this area.

While there are certainly more secluded and private beaches on Maui, this is the beach to go to if you want scenery, fun, and convenience rolled into one. There was never a time when we felt this beach was too crowded or that we couldn't find a spot for our umbrella or chairs. Definitely worth a visit, or base your vacation from here and rent a car to easily travel to other beaches in the area.

This hike is perfect when you are short on time but will give you a good workout due to the fact that it's fairly steep! The entire hike is beautiful. After climbing a bit you will hike through an aspen forest and a beautiful meadow before reaching the lake. Sunsets here are amazing and fall colors can't be beat with all of the aspen both on the hike and lining the lake. I almost always see moose on this trail and at the lake so be aware. Sometimes you have to wait for them on the trail. You should always maintain a distance of at least 25 yards.

This is a classic fall drive in the state of Utah and for good reason. When the colors are at peak, this place is a sea of yellow, red, and orange from the aspens and the maples. Not to be missed!

A great hike for all ages. The trail is accessible and gives you a great taste of Arches National Park if you are short on time. Very hot in Summer so start early or go late.

This trail and the Road to Hana are life changing experiences. Walking through the bamboo forest is something that's hard to describe and must be experienced in person. This entire hike is a feast for the senses. We received some great advice that I believe helped us a lot, and allowed us to experience this beautiful place and others without the crowds. It was to drive to the end of the road to Hana, do this hike first, then backtrack and hit the other sites. Most people do it the other way of course, stopping along the way and ending up at the Pipiwai Trail. A few tips: This is a rainforest so dress accordingly with light, wicking clothing that dries quickly and bring a lot of water! In addition, make sure to be at the start of the Road to Hana no later than about 8 am if you are planning to do the whole thing and see all of the sites in one day.

Where else can you start at 10,800 feet and end up at 11,943 feet in just over 2 miles? The Bald Mountain trail of course! This is a locals favorite for a reason. The panoramic views will take your breath away, literally! I would classify this hike as moderate for most, easy for some. It starts climbing right off the bat and really doesn't stop. Of course it all depends on your fitness level and how acclimated you are to elevation. The last time we hiked this trail, there were people who were visiting from Texas and some of them struggled. In addition, there are several places where the trail is narrow with steep cliffs and drop offs. Young children should be supervised in these spots. If you have a member of your group who is afraid of heights, I would take that into consideration. The final approach to the summit is a bit technical with large boulders but oh those views! This hike is best done mid to late July-September when the snow has melted. Plenty of water and sunscreen is a must, as much of this hike is above tree line. Because lightening is frequent here, avoid hiking when there is a threat of storms.

This is one that we never miss when visiting the Uinta mountains due to the diversity and epic views. This hike takes you through forest, gorgeous mountain meadows filled with wildflowers, marshes, and rocky peaks, with several beautiful lakes and epic views all around. The recommendation to start this hike in a counter-clockwise direction is a good one, although you do climb quite a bit right off the bat. Going over the pass is the steepest part but you can pace yourself and take in the amazing views to be found here. My favorite part of this hike is the immense mountain meadow towards the end. So incredibly beautiful! Be advised that it rains every day in the Uintas, sometimes heavily and often suddenly, so be prepared with the proper clothing and footwear. Also, if doing this hike in July I strongly recommend bug spray because the mosquitoes are relentless! By August they are dying off but you should definitely have it on hand.

This is a beautiful hike through aspen forests and beautiful meadows, ending in a secluded and peaceful lake. The grade is moderate here, and the trail isn't as rocky as others in the area so it's great for trail running as well. In the summer, the wildflowers are absolutely stunning, dotting the landscape the entire length of the hike. Lots of mosquitoes around that time of year too so bring the bug spray! It's very secluded and peaceful up at the lake, and camping here is a favorite activity for locals. Fall is stunning (as is all of Big Cottonwood) with all of the beautiful aspen. Be sure to watch out for mountain bikers coming down from the Wasatch Crest Trail. This hike was closer to 8 miles according to GPS.

If you're a wildlife photographer, you know how special the Gros Ventre area is. It is full of life in all seasons, with winter being my favorite. Make sure to bring a telephoto lens! Please note that due to the record snow and runoff this year, erosion washed part of the road away, and traffic will be restricted to one lane for the foreseeable future. Plan accordingly.

This is one of the most spectacular hikes in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and should not be missed! Definitely one of the prettiest hikes I've been on. Six miles round-trip, mostly flat, but could be challenging for some because the majority of the trail is sand and exposed. I recommend starting this hike very early in the Summer months, especially with children. Along the way you will see gorgeous sandstone cliffs, rich with desert varnish, and pre-historic rock art. There is also a nice variety of flora and fauna here, and a lush riparian habitat as you get closer to the falls. I loved the color of the mineral-streaked sandstone, and the green from the moss and algae growing along the walls that surround the falls. The water here is usually cold, no matter what time of year so be prepared if you plan to swim.

This glacial basin high in the Wasatch Mountains is a favorite of many locals, including me. It's tough, gaining significant elevation quickly, but there is no greater sight than seeing Sundial Peak and the red, glacial-scarred rock as you approach the top. The entire hike is beautiful, with dramatic views of the salt lake valley, a trek through an aspen forest, and gorgeous wildflowers in summer. If you go during the week you can avoid the crowds, and make sure to visit the two smaller lakes as well, which can be accessed to the right of Lake Blanche. There are many exposed sections on this hike so plan to go early and bring a lot of water, you'll need it! Hiking poles are also helpful on the steep descent.

The Jenny Lake area is the most popular place in Grand Teton National Park. It's an absolute must see, but I recommend going early in the morning, or in the evening to avoid the big crowds. My favorite time of year to visit is in late Fall. The color is spectacular! While it's possible to take the boat ride across the lake (fun for kids) I recommend hiking around the lake. Cascade Canyon is incredibly beautiful and awe inspiring, and looking out across Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point is a classic Teton experience.

There is so much to see on this hike, including a variety of gorgeous wildflowers in summer. I love hiking among the pines, and stopping at each lake to reflect. In addition, we almost always see moose on this hike. Please stay at least 25 yards away from these animals at all times, and also remember that swimming is not allowed here.

I did this hike with my family (older kids) in mid-June and it was wonderful. Lots of wildflowers with the smell of fresh pine in the air. The large lily pond near the start of the hike was so beautiful and also full of mosquitoes! This time of year is mosquito season in the Tetons so bring your bug spray if you don't want to come back covered in bites like I did! They were present quite a distance from the lake. To add to the adventure, there was a mass release of pollen from thousands of Lodgepole Pines the day we hiked this trail. I've never seen anything like it! It suddenly got really hazy and I thought it was raining at first until I realized I wasn't getting wet. I'm guessing this happens around the same time each year. Something to think about if you're allergic. We did not encounter any bears this trip, but had the bear spray ready, as I've been told this area is a favorite of black bears.

The wildflower bloom here is world famous, and for good reason. It's an experience everyone should have at least once. A sense of humor and common courtesy is needed here during the busy times, especially at sunset since this is a popular destination for family photos during the bloom. Go early in the morning for the best chance at solitude.

Ask anyone who knows this place, and hiking to Taggart Lake will always be on their recommended list. Some of the absolute best views of the Tetons can be found on this hike, and it's a photographers dream. This hike has a diversity of scenery from open areas with spectacular views of the Tetons to a mixed coniferous forest, and of course, the pristine lake. Make sure to spend some time there, and enjoy lunch right at the base of the Tetons. In fact, this hike gives one of the best close-up views of the mountains in the park. Fishing is also a popular activity here so don't forget your poles!

Grand Teton National Park is a different world in the Winter, and snowshoeing or skiing along the groomed inner road is an experience you won't forget. The beautiful Teton range follows you the whole way, making it hard sometimes to concentrate on your skiing so don't fall! Starting from the Taggart Lake trailhead it's relatively flat, but it's 15 miles one-way to Signal Mountain Lodge so you can get an incredible workout if you decide to do the whole thing. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing and food here as you will have a long way to go to get back to the car if you get in trouble. Also watch the weather forecast carefully. Of course, you can go as far as you like, making it a good activity for families. If on snowshoes, I would recommend taking some time to hike up to Taggart Lake.

Spectacular color, chances to see wildlife, and one of the best views of the Teton Range await you at this classic spot in the park. Dusk is often the time you will see wildlife, including the playful beavers who make their homes here. If you are a photographer (or even if you are not) make sure to walk down the path for different compositions and views of the mountains. This place can be a little hard to find if you've never been so do your research on where to go before your visit.

This is one of my favorite hikes in Yellowstone. Sure there are a lot of stairs, but you can take them at your own pace, resting as needed. The hike is relatively short and the rewards are great, with a spectacular close-up view of the lower falls and surrounding canyon. There are many side trails around this area too that will take you off the beaten path for some quite solitude in the park. Bonus: You will often see rainbows here, which makes the whole experience that much cooler.

The Midway Geyser Basin contains two of the largest hot springs in the world, the Grand Prismatic Spring and the Excelsior Geyser. Each is spectacular in it's own right. The colors of the Grand Prismatic are incredible, and can change depending on temperature and time of year. Watching the super-heated water from Excelsior Geyser pour into the Firehole River is another can't miss sight, and this whole area has ample opportunities for incredible compositions for photographers. This is one of the busiest spots in the park and if you go in the Summer months, you will be sharing it with a lot of people. Best time to visit is in the Spring or Fall seasons.

This waterfall is a must-see when visiting the Jenny Lake District. If accessed from the Jenny Lake trail head, it is a relatively easy and short hike and great for families. If hiking with small children, a boat ride across the lake is advised and fun! Keep in mind that the Jenny Lake trail is currently under construction so access to the waterfall may be impaired. Check with the ranger station before planning your visit.