13 Budget-Friendly Backpacking Adventures That Will Leave You in Awe

If you want to travel on a budget, there are some fantastic options to explore in the US. Let’s explore some affordable backpacking destinations across the states.

Moab, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA - October 8, 2016. Facade of the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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You can hike the red rock canyons in Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park or kayak down the Colorado River. For epic thrills, you can also go mountain biking.

Free camping options are available, or you can find hostels for around $30 a night. Budget-friendly eats like wraps and sandwiches for around $5-$10 can be found.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennesse, in early summer.
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Whether you want to hike along misty mountain trails, spot waterfalls, or soak in the breathtaking views, this is perfect.

Free camping is available in designated areas, or you can find basic cabins for around $30-$35 a night. Pack some groceries and cook your meals for budget-friendly eats, or grab a hearty sandwich for around $8-$10.

New Orleans, Louisiana

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Immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene, sample spicy Cajun and Creole cuisine, and get swept up in the infectious Mardi Gras spirit.

Hostels in the French Quarter start around $25-$35 a night, and you can find delicious street food like po’boys and beignets for around $5-$10.

Asheville, North Carolina

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Hike in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, explore quirky breweries and art galleries, and relax in Asheville’s laid-back atmosphere.

Affordable hostels can be found for around $30-$40 a night per person, and filling pub fare like burgers and tacos won’t break the bank at around $8-$12.

Austin, Texas

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If you wish to catch free outdoor concerts under the Texas sun, try exploring funky neighborhoods like South Congress. Or you can indulge in Tex-Mex delights like BBQ and breakfast tacos.

Hostels are readily available for around $40-$50 a night, and you can find cheap eats like pizza slices and food truck fare for around $5-$10.

Portland, Oregon

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Looking for a blend of town and nature? This site will serve you the best. Dive into Portland’s thriving coffee scene or sip on locally brewed craft beers.

If you want to be close to nature, go hiking in Forest Park or explore vintage shops in quirky neighborhoods like Mississippi Avenue.

Camping spots start around $20-$50 a night, and you can grab a filling bagel or slice of pizza for around $5-$10.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Stroll along the scenic Mississippi Riverfront, visit museums like the Minneapolis Institute of Art for free, and cheer on the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Don’t forget to try the juicy Jucy Lucy burger, a local favorite, or find budget-friendly eats in the vibrant Mill District. Hostels can be found for around $20-$30 a night, and you can score a hearty bowl of ramen or a falafel wrap for around $8-$12.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming Under the Early Morning Cloudy Sky with the forest in the foreground
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Explore the otherworldly landscapes of Yellowstone, with its hot springs, mud pots, and diverse wildlife. If you are lucky, you may spot a bison or grizzly bear. Here, you can hike along scenic trails, take a dip in a geothermal pool, and witness the power of nature at its most.

Camping is the most budget-friendly option here, with campsites starting around $20 a night. If you are on a very tight budget, pack your groceries and cook your meals.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

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Hike through rolling hills and lush forests, take in breathtaking panoramic views from Skyline Drive, and witness the vibrant fall foliage during autumn.

Budget-friendly camping options are available, or you can find basic cabins for around $20-$45 a night. Pack sandwiches and snacks for budget-friendly meals, or grab a hearty bowl of chili or soup at park lodges for around $8-$10.

Charleston, South Carolina

The home along Rainbow Row in Charleston, South Carolina. These Georgian style homes are brightly painted in direct sunlight.
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If you are fond of Southern hospitality, Charleston won’t disappoint you. With its historic architecture, horse-drawn carriage rides, and charming public gardens, this can be a great backpacking location for a day or two.

Camps start around $35-$40 a night, and you can find budget-friendly eats like shrimp and grits or barbecue sandwiches for around $8-$12.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

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Explore stark desert landscapes, hike through dramatic canyons carved by the Rio Grande, and witness breathtaking sunrises over the Chisos Mountains.

Big Bend is a prime spot for stargazing under unpolluted skies.

Free camping options are available in designated areas, or you can find basic campsites for around $10-$15 a night. Packing your meals would be the most budget-friendly option. However, you can get a basic burrito or burger at park concession stands for around $5-$8.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania/New Jersey

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Lace up your boots and explore miles of scenic trails overlooking the Delaware River.  You can also kayak through serene waters surrounded by lush forests and visit historic sites like the Appalachian Trail.

Budget-friendly campgrounds are readily available. The entrance is free, but you may need to pay parking, shuttle, and other maintenance-related fees.

Glacier National Park, Montana

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While coming here, be prepared to be amazed by the mountain scenery, turquoise lakes, and natural beauty. However, keep your eyes open for locals, like grizzly bears, elk, and bighorn sheep.

Camping is the most budget-friendly option, with campsites starting around $10-$23 a night. You can get basic breakfast burritos and burgers at the park lodges for $5-$8, but bringing your food will save you a few dollars.

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