When to Go: October through April, when desert temperatures relent—a little. Go with Adventure Jordan, the local company that discovered this 50-mile route through the deserts, mountains, and peaks of Jordan.
At the top of an ancient stairway carved into the red rock, the narrow defile leads around a sharp bend, and suddenly you are stopped cold. There stands the exquisite carved façade of Al Deir, better known as the Monastery, perhaps Petra’s grandest monument. And you have it to yourself. To enter the Nabataean city of Petra in a small party at the conclusion of almost a week in the rugged wilds of the Kingdom of Jordan is a far more satisfying arrival than pulling into the parking lot with its idling tour buses ten miles away. That’s what makes the weeklong trek unique.
When to Go: Pre-monsoon (March or April) gives you the rhododendrons in bloom and lots of climber action, but post-monsoon (November) gives you drier weather. Go with guide services that use local Sherpa guides, cooks, and porters—it’s part of the experience.
Arguably the greatest of all high-mountain journeys, this stroll through Nepal’s Khumbu district lets you see three of the highest peaks on Earth (Everest, Lhotse, and Lhotse Sar) in one glance—and dozens more Himalayan giants along the way. A favorite is the view from Thyangboche, called by renowned mountain explorer W.H. Tillman the “greatest view in the world.” But it’s the deep immersion in the Sherpas’ Buddhist culture that will bring you back for the friendly villages, the monasteries, and the polyglot scene of world travelers who come for the high-octane pilgrimage to Everest.
Big Bend is all about a sense of vastness: Hundred-mile views sweep across the hills, arroyos, and mesas of the Chihuahuan Desert with nary a sign of civilization. No place delivers a sense of the park’s enormity—and solitude—better than the high country of the Chisos Mountains. This three-day, two-night hike climbs into and traverses the south rim of the range, where you can stand in the shade of big maples, cypress, oaks, and ponderosa pines and view the austere beauty of the desert far below.
Insider Tip: Cache water in advance at Blue Creek Canyon so you only have to carry two days’ worth of liquid.