I am sixty years old, which qualifies me to give advice to young adults. I said that to get your attention, but a lot of folks my age and older have been there and done that and can be a valuable source of knowledge to those in the twenties and thirties. My advice centers on understanding that at a young age, under most circumstances, your most valuable commodity is time.
There is so much you can do with time, unless you are limited by poor health or insufficient wealth. Assuming that you do not yet suffer from the former, the chances are greater that you are afflicted by the latter. That is why you are likely investing your time and money into educating yourself, in competing for a better job, or in cobbling together more jobs. You marry and have children, a blessing, but also a condemnation of you to work until you are my age. Before these things take hold of you completely, right now, decide to experience wild America. Go see the west!
You need a target. I suggest The Grand Teton Mountain Range in Wyoming. Organize your favorite people and suggest that all of you should invest time into getting into great shape by hiking, biking, and climbing. Find the local trails, campsites, and nature’s beauty that you can see and enjoy with borrowed or used gear so that you can learn your level of commitment and decide on which gear you will buy. But, while you get yourself into great shape and while you bring your friends up to the thrill of adventure, set your sights on the Tetons.
Your greatest expense will likely be flying to Jackson Hole. Coordinate your first trip with your friends and try to get a great air fare for late Spring or early Fall. The Tetons are north of Jackson Hole. Jackson Lake Lodge is the best place to take in the panoramic view. It is expensive to stay there, but you can go there for free and have a great lunch with a view for a reasonable price. Once that view gets your heart pumping, follow your plan to hike and camp along one of the ten major trails that lead into the range. You will never forget this!
Likely, you will be fired up to take on the rest of wild western America while you are still young. Yellowstone is north of the Tetons. Southern Utah red rock country simply must be experienced. Yosemite in California, Denali in Alaska, and hundreds of other hiking locales beckon. You must start young, be in shape, have a plan, and just do it or you will squander your time and be sixty-years-old, compelled to only look at these adventures from your hotel.
Take precautions: Don’t do unsafe things in wild America. Be careful with fire, respectful of weather, mind your footing, keep a good source of communications, a reliable means to filter water, travel light, bring bear spray, and rope to put your food in a tree away from a camp at night. Travel in a group of at least four people. Other than that, get your happy face on and use your valuable time to get to the marrow of life. Go wild!