The Best Microadventures In Each Of The Southwestern States

For the next month, Uproxx GPS is zeroing in on “microadventures” — day trips, quick jaunts, and small-scale explorations that will notch neatly into your busy life. As part of this initiative, we’re counting off the best day trips in five different regions of the country. Today we’re in the Southwest, where red rocks and deep canyons abound!

Last week we launched this series with a post about the best microadventures in each of the western states. Today, we continue our trek across the United States with stops in each state in the Southwestern region. If you missed last week’s entry and the interview with the man who coined the term microadventure,” let us catch you up: A microadventure is a small trip that allows you to be in nature. Maybe that means a campout in your yard, but it could also be a five-hour drive to get to the perfect campground. Think simple and cheap, but also exciting and enriching. The important thing is that you are outside, experiencing the world fully.

Since we are still in the West, the states can be giant (hello, Texas!), making picking a single locale a true challenge. And though we’re certain some of you would argue that we picked wrong, not a single one of you can say these trips don’t look like a damn good time.

Texas: Big Thicket National Preserve

Known previously by names like the Bear Hunter’s Happy Hunting Ground and the Biological Crossroads of North America, Big Thicket National Preserve is a thickly forested area in Southeast Texas. It’s over 100,000 acres and features 40 miles of dope hiking trails.

This is one of the most biodiverse areas outside of the tropics. The preserve was actually established in 1974 to protect the area’s plant and animal species. It later became one of the first national preserves in the United States National Park System. It’s also designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Serious pedigree, serious adventure.

Now, there isn’t a single developed campground or designated campsite in the preserve, which we think is exciting. This is your chance to do some serious Alastair Humphrey OG microadventuring. Grab a permit, hit the backcountry and throw down a tent (or simply a bedroll if you roll hard). You have to stay 200 feet from the roads and trails, other than that, game on!

Yes, the hiking in Big Thicket is first-rate, but the ultimate microadventure should include paddling. the preserve is lousy with water. You have bayous, creeks, and a river, which means it’s kayaking and canoeing time! If you’re nervous about exploring independently, there are two official Texas Paddling Trails: Village Creek Paddling Trail and Cooks Lake to Scatterman Paddling Trail. They are each clearly marked and easy to follow. Think of moving smoothly through the water while surrounded by bald cypress, river birches, and other shade trees along the bank. Take a break and stop for a snack on one of the beautiful white-sand beaches. Check with local outfitters if you need a kayak or canoe.

Oklahoma: Charon’s Garden Wilderness Area