The summit of Mount Whitney used to have the highest toilet in the Lower 48 until the Park Service removed it in 2007, to the dismay of thousands of would-be poopers who don’t get to go home with a story about how they “dropped anchor” or “went to see a man about a horse” at 14,505 feet. Unless, of course, they want to do it in a blue bag and take it out with them. Which is less fun, and more difficult to do on a what is usually a crowded summit.
Thankfully, the throne on top of Whitney wasn’t the only scenic one in the United States-there are plenty of places left to [insert euphemism here] in the woods, on the comfort of a toilet seat. Here are 10 of our favorites:
1. Castle Valley Bivy, Castle Valley, Utah
There’s no campground in Castle Valley, Utah, near Moab, just a pullout used by climbers for bivying the nights before and after they get on classic desert sandstone climbs like Fine Jade and the Fifty Classics Kor-Ingalls route on Castleton Tower. Thankfully, in 2011, Renee DeAngelis, owner of the Bay Area’s Planet Granite climbing gyms, helped the Access Fund pay for several projects, one of which was a privy facing Castleton Tower and the Rectory.
2. Chasm Junction Privy, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
If you’re making your way up the standard hiking route on Longs Peak at the appropriate time, you’ll see Longs’ east face, the Diamond, lit up by alpenglow as the sun rises. But just before that, you can go #1 or #2 in the privy at Chasm Junction, head and shoulders out in the open air, looking out into the open plains east of Rocky Mountain National Park.
3. Salt Creek Camp Privy, Tonto Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon has a handful of few scenic open-air toilets, but we like this one, with views to both the north and south rims of the canyon, so you can admire millions of years of geological history while taking care of your gastrointestinal affairs.
4. Crabtree Meadow Toilet, John Muir Trail, California
JMT hikers know there’s more than one scenic commode on the 221-mile trail. But this one is a solid contender for the best: surrounded by nothing but pine trees-that’s right, no walls to block the view/protect your modesty, just a pit toilet on a short wooden pedestal. Just like pooping in the woods, without the squatting.
5. Desolation Peak toilet, North Cascades National Park, Washington
Head REI.com blogger T.D. Wood, who estimates he’s hiked more than 12,000 miles in his lengthy career, says the open-air throne atop Desolation Peak-also famous for being home to Jack Kerouac for his season as a fire lookout-is his all-time favorite wilderness toilet, with its huge views out into the Cascades.
6. Boulder Pass Campsite toilet, Glacier National Park, Montana
Luke Barclay, author of the book A Loo With a View, put this in his worldwide collection of best scenic toilets, because, as he says, “For loo-view purists this is what it is all about. No protection, no sinks, no soap dispensers. It is just you, a loo, and a spectacular view.” The view being one of the Agassiz Glacier and the Whitefish Mountain Range.
7. Boston Basin High Camp toilet, North Cascades National Park, Washington
With a view straight at the north face of Johannesburg Mountain (one of the Cascades’ most famous peaks), Barclay writes in A Loo With a View, “Few would disagree that the Boston Basin loo scores well in almost every area. A spectacular, unspoiled, uninterrupted, sweeping vista, lies directly in front of you while seated-and for added entertainment it is even located near a colony of marmots!”
8. Hamilton Lake toilet, High Sierra Trail, California
True, you have to turn and look over your shoulder while sitting on this backcountry toilet to see Angel Wings, the 1,800-foot granite wall Galen Rowell called “an alpine El Capitan,” but hey, in most public restrooms, you basically have to do a yoga pose to reach the toilet paper dispenser, so we’re not complaining.
9. Smarts Mountain Shelter privy, Appalachian Trail, New Hampshire
When George Steffanos wrote his now-online book, Then The Hail Came, about his 1983 thru-hike of the AT, he titled chapter 20 “A Toilet With A View,” and included this description of the privy at the Smarts Mountain Shelter:
“The view from that crapper is so compelling that the D.O.C. has completely removed its walls and ceiling in order to enable the grateful user to enjoy it to the fullest extent possible. Considering the climate in northern New England at this altitude, I found the open-air concept a little…well…f___ing deranged, but I must admit that the views did absolutely blow away those from any other toilet at which I have ever been. The magnificent sweep of that lake country eastward to the foothills of the White Mountains could make a man feel himself to be the lord of all he surveyed and compel him to leave his newspaper unread. It is a heady thought.”