Most people immediately think of the Alps in Austria or Switzerland when they think of mountain holidays, but there are also areas outside Europe where you can go on fantastic mountain hikes, for example in the United States. What’s more, for a holiday in America, you usually don’t need an embassy visa, but only an ESTA visa.
Round trip through the Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains, also called the Rockies, are located in the west of the USA and Canada. The highest peak of the Rocky Mountains is Mount Elbert, at more than 4,400 metres above sea level. The mountain range stretches from the Canadian province of British Columbia to the Rio Grande River in the US state of New Mexico. Due to the varied landscapes, the Rocky Mountains have something for everyone: from beautiful lakes and valleys to snow-capped peaks, glaciers and volcanoes.
The area is home to numerous national parks with beautiful lakes, volcanoes and glaciers, including the oldest national park in the US in the state of Wyoming: Yellowstone. This national park is located on a dormant volcano and is known for its many hot springs and geysers. Another impressive national park in the Rocky Mountains is Glacier National Park, located in the state of Montana. The park is known for its rugged mountain peaks and – as the name suggests – its many glaciers. Those who want to combine their trip through the mountains with a city trip can visit for example Denver, Salt Lake City or Boulder.
The Great Smoky Mountains
In the east of the United States, you will find the Smoky Mountains, a mountain range in the southern Appalachians. This mountain range may not be as well-known as the Rocky Mountains, but it’s definitely worth a visit. It lies on the border of the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. Clingmans Dome is its highest peak at 2025 metres. The mountain range owes its name to the mist that often hangs over the mountain tops.
A well-known hike through this area is the Appalachian Trail. This route of almost 3500 metres runs through 14 American states, but it is also possible to do part of the route through the Smoky Mountains. The mountain area is easily accessible from Nashville, Charlotte and Atlanta. From these three cities it’s about a 4-hour drive to the mountain range.
Preparing for a trip to USA: applying for an ESTA visa
In general, no complicated preparations are required for a hiking holiday in the USA. UK and EU tourists usually do not require an embassy visa and therefore don’t need to visit the US embassy or consulate. However, they do need to apply online for an ESTA visa. This travel authorisation is granted within three days and sent by e-mail. Before submitting an application, check that you comply with the requirements of the ESTA visa.
The US government recently announced that travel to the United States will be possible again for UK and EU travellers from November. The travel ban will be lifted, meaning holidays to the USA will be possible again. You are, however, required to be fully vaccinated and take a pre-departure test, along with having the mandatory ESTA visa.