nullAt one of the four pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinners I’ve been invited to, one of my friends remarked that Thanksgiving in L.A. was becoming like Halloween – an extended 2-3 week celebratory period that may or may not have a party or dinner scheduled on the actual holiday itself. And I like it that way.

For years, my old roommates and I would have a full Prethanksgiving dinner so we could do something fun on Actual Thanksgiving – whether it was hiking in the Grand Canyon, exploring Seattle and Olympic National Park, or just backpacking in the San Bernardinos. Since L.A. is essentially a Transplant City, chances are pretty good that you may not have any local family events scheduled for this Thursday – and if you’ve been meaning to, it’s a great time to explore our nearby natural resources.

Based on my past experience, crowds in popular National Forests and Parks are practically non-existent on Thanksgiving. When we were in the Grand Canyon, we practically had the South Rim to ourselves on Thanksgiving. Of course, the crowds were back in full force the next day, but that one quiet day was worth the drive.

If you’ve been meaning to check out one of our desert parks – Joshua Tree, Death Valley, or Anza Borrego – now is a great time to visit. Daytime temperatures are perfect – just remember to bring extra blankets if you’re overnighting. If you want to stay closer and escape the unseasonably warm temperatures, the eastern San Gabriels and San Bernardinos will have brisk, clear weather that’ll whet your seasonal appetite, and the Santa Monicas should be great, too — just make sure you plan on some of the usual local amenities like restaurants being closed.

I’ll probably be putting my boots to good use somewhere near Mount Baldy, so feel free to say hello if you spot me on the trail. Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving hikes? Or will you just be stuffing your face with turkey and lounging around in pajama pants?

No shame in that second choice either, by the way.

Image by CarbonNYC.

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