All images courtesy of Lucid Images.
Zion Half MarathonApril 1, 2017; Virgin, Utah 1 of 10
This half marathon begins at 3,546 feet and has a gentle, steady climb of only 466 feet from Camino Del Rio to the finish line at the entrance of Zion. Those with extra energy to burn can hike the 1,500 feet in just over 2.5 miles to Angels Landing after the race and become a member of the exclusive Angels Club—in addition to receiving 50-percent-off race registration the following year.
Grand Canyon Half MarathonMay 7, 2016; Tusayan, Ariz. 2 of 10
With a gently rolling course, this half marathon begins and ends in Tusayan, Arizona. This route boasts off-road trail running with a modest elevation gain of only 279 feet. For this race—as well as the others in this series—a nice amenity is the option to have your bib number and shirt mailed to you for a modest fee. You can skip the packet pick-up detail at the race venue.
Grand Teton Half MarathonJune 4, 2016; Jackson, Wyo. 3 of 10
Soak up the breathtaking views of the Teton Range while running this rolling course that starts at just under 6,200 feet and rises in altitude just more than 1,000 feet.
Want bragging rights? Complete the Grand Teton race, and then run the Yellowstone Half Marathon a week later to earn Grizzly Double Dare awards and schwag. Add a 5K the day before the Yellowstone Half to earn Caldera Triple schwag—which can only be earned and not purchased. Each event in the series has opportunities for extra challenges.
Yellowstone Half MarathonJune 11, 2016; Yellowstone, Mont. 4 of 10
When running in Yellowstone, it's entirely possible that you can have bears or buffalo as spectators while you run along scenic dirt roads. This course is primarily flat—except for the one hill that is right in the middle of the course.
In the toughest section of the race, you'll gain about 200 feet in elevation over about a mile before the course levels out. Then there's a nice downhill run for two miles, with the majority of the descent coming in mile eight.
Rocky Mountain Half MarathonJuly 30, 2016; Estes Park, Colo. 5 of 10
Begin your run at just under 7,500 feet at Lake Estes just outside of the quaint town of Estes Park. Run along paths and roads where the views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker will take your breath away.
The route passes right by the historic Stanley Hotel, which is said to have inspired Stephen King to write The Shining. Those wanting an extra challenge can receive special recognition by documenting a hike or run to the high-altitude summit of Chasm Lake or the top of Hallett Peak within 72 hours of the half marathon.
Great Smoky Mountains Half MarathonSept. 10, 2016; Townsend, Tenn. 6 of 10
If altitude is not your cup of tea, this half marathon is made for you. It begins at about 900 feet and finishes just below 1,100 feet, with only 364 feet of elevation gain throughout the course.
After running along open roads with spectacular views of the mountains, you'll finish right next to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. The Center is worth a stop to learn about the rich history of Native Americans who inhabited the mountain communities.
Yosemite Half MarathonOct. 8, 2016; Yosemite, Calif. 7 of 10
If you're looking for a fast half marathon time, this course is for you. Beginning at 7,000 feet and finishing at just over 3,000 feet elevation, the course is primarily downhill.
While many races focus on an uphill course, race organizers commented that they cared more about the scenic beauty of the course than designing an uphill run. That doesn't mean downhill runs are all easy. Race organizers commented, "We settled on a run down Beasore Road. It's steep. Very steep. ... It might be too steep for some, but for others, it just poses another challenge."
Lake Powell Half MarathonOct. 15, 2016; Page, Ariz. 8 of 10
Another downhill course, this half marathon begins at 4,340 feet and loses 650 feet over the course. One of the best features of the course is running along the Rim Trail, which gives you dramatic views of Lake Powell and gives spectators with boats a chance to cheer on the runners.
Racers finish near the water's edge after enjoying views of colorful canyons and, of course, Lake Powell lapping the shorelines.
Everglades Half MarathonNov. 19, 2016; Everglades National Park, Fla. 9 of 10
With 2016 marking the inaugural year for this race, the Everglades Half Marathon promises breathtaking views of Southern Florida wildlife, plants and landscapes. Run through Shark Valley in the Everglades National Park, the course stays entirely in the park, so there's plenty of opportunity to spot a heron, deer or even a gator. Looking for a PR? The course remains flat through race (because, well, it's at sea level), providing the perfect opportunity for a new best time.