Top adventure trips in the USA

If your looking for active adventure in the USA, it’s time to grab your gear and head out to some of these amazing destinations around the country. If you love trekking through exciting mountain ranges and national parks, kayaking through pristine rivers, canyoning, snorkeling or diving or some fantastic water sport that gives you that unforgettable rush and once in a lifetime experience, you need to try any of these adventure trips in the USA.

Best adventure experiences in the USA

Whether you enjoy summer or winter adventure experiences. Extreme or soft immersion and sensory trips, there are so many wonderful things to do around the USA that inspire you to visit and try these fun and cool active or easier active experiences. This guide is broken down into extreme, easy/soft, family oriented and unusual adventure/active experiences and the specific activities and locations to go to and tips on how and when to do this.

Extreme or challenging USA adventure tours or experiences

 

 

Canyoneering in Zion x 100

Canyoneering at Zion National Park

A really great outdoor activity for adrenaline junkies or those with a sense of adventure is canyoneering in Zion National Park. This involved rappelling and climbing down a series of narrow slot canyons. One of the best places to do canyoneering is in and around Zion National Park because the area is riddled with enormous ‘staircases’ made of multiple layers of cliffs 15-200 feet high with narrow walls only several feet apart. There are anchors firmly attached at the top of each cliff on most routes in the area, so if you have your own rappelling equipment, this is easy to do. If you don’t – and especially if this is your first time canyoneering – there are operators in nearby Springdale that will arrange everything for you, including providing an expert guide to teach and accompany you. The first descent is the worst – edging your way backwards over the edge of the cliff, then lowering yourself down is terrifying at the beginning, but soon the thrill and awe at the incredible surroundings take over. This is not for the faint-hearted, but after you get over any initial fear, it is pure fun.  Early fall is the best time of the year for canyoneering, but late spring and early summer are also OK. 

 James at Travel Collecting

 

 

 

Easy or soft USA adventures

 

 

Zion hikes and adventure experience

Hiking the many trails of Zion National Park

Even though Zion National Park is a four season destination, in my opinion spring time is really the best time to explore Zion National Park. There are so many amazing trails to get out and see the stunning landscape around the park from soft to more challenging hikes. You can’t go wrong with any of these hikes that spot light different areas of the park and are more dependent on the timeframe you have to visiting each area. Spring to summer is a very popular time to visit so make sure you book your hotels months in advanced because accommodations fill quickly or you will be paying outrageous prices. Same for campers and camp sites that are full during peak visiting time frames.

For more inspiration, check out my Zion National Park hikes post here for more images and the main hikes worth visiting around the park.

Check out reviews and booking accommodations around Zion National park here for more details and current prices.

 

Urban Hiking Camelback Mountain Phoenix Arizona

Urban Hiking at Cambelback Mountain in Phoenix, AZ

Should you mention in Phoenix that you are slightly interested in hiking and the enthusiastic response is sure to be, “Oh you must hike Camelback Mountain!” America’s fifth largest metropolis boasts one of the best urban hikes in the world. At an elevation of 2,706 feet, the camel-shaped mountain landmarks the northeast horizon of the city of Phoenix. Arriving to the summit of the camel’s hump and the jaw-dropping 360 degree view of the surrounding cities of Scottsdale, Phoenix and Paradise Valley is no walk in the park.

There are two different Camelback Mountain hiking routes, the Echo Canyon trail and the Cholla trail. The Echo Canyon route is most popular and begins at 4925 E McDonald Drive. Arrive early, as close to sunrise as possible, to avoid heat and to ensure parking. There is no water supply on Camelback Mountain so bring a good supply of water. Reading guides to hiking Camelback, the difficulty level is rated moderate to extreme. The reality is that the Camelback trail is very difficult, with some moderate sections. For everything you need to know to hike Camelback Mountain click here.

Sue Slaght-Travel Tales of Life

 

 

Biking adventure In San Francisco

Biking Along the Waterfront In San Francisco

Biking along the San Francisco waterfront, and over the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, is a fun adventure for the whole family. This is a great bike ride year round, just check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Reserve your bikes online at San Francisco Bicycle Rentals and your fun day will start here, at 425 Jefferson Street, near Fisherman’s Wharf. After picking up your bikes, set out along the waterfront to Aquatic Park. Ride up the hill and through Fort Mason, now you are in the Marina District. Ride along the bike trail, by the Marina Green, and continue on the stunning trail along the Bay, looking out to the splendor of the Golden Gate Bridge. Ride over the Golden Gate, then take a left, go under the bridge and down into posh Sausalito. Make your way to the ferry dock where you can purchase your tickets. The ferry will arrive at one of the best foodie destinations in the City, the Ferry Building. Have lunch, then continue riding along the waterfront, passing Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, and return your bikes.

Read more on Fun Things To Do In San Francsco

Tip: For young kids, consider renting a tandem. You will be biking in some areas with many cars and pedestrians, the Golden Gate Bridge can be windy with serious cyclists racing by.

Whitney with Go fam travel

 

 

 

Glacier-National-Park-adventure road trip

Road trip through Glacier National Park

One of the most inspirational places to visit is Glacier National Park and a drive through the most scenic areas and short visits and hikes through the area is ideal to experience the best parts of the park. There are many scenic look out points and the highlight of visiting the area is to take a drive on the Road to the Sun starting from the valley floor to the most spectacular points of interests while driving up the stunning mountains to view the park valley and mountains from below. Once you are up in the summit areas there are many trails that you can explore in the park. One of the most popular trails to take is up by the Logan Pass visitor center at the summit of the Road to the Sun. The alpine trails at the summit area are a great way to explore the summit areas with fantastic views of the peaks and scenic views overlooking the park areas.

For more inspiration to visiting, check out my Glacier National Park tour here for more images and details to visiting various parts of the parks including the Road to the Sun.

 

 

 

Ausable Chasm Adventure Center

Ausable Chasm in Upstate New York

Ausable Chasm is one of the most spectacular attractions in Upstate New York. This 2-mile gorge along the Au Sable river is one of the oldest attractions in the US dating back to the late 1800’s. Shaped by glaciers and tectonics, Ausable Chasm is a full-on adventure destination too.
There are rope courses, rafting, tubing, and rock climbing, much of it
fit for the whole family. usable Chasm is also a year-round destination. It’s popular for hiking and exploring or just enjoying the great outdoors.  Although Ausable Chasm is in a fairly remote part of Upstate New York, it’s not too far from other great attractions like Lake Placid and The Wild Center. And there is great camping nearby at the Ausable Chasm campground. There are incredible nearby attractions as well such as the fascinating Underground Railroad museum documenting the regions importance in freeing slaves from the deep south.
But, if you’re visiting this incredible Adirondack adventure center,
make sure to explore the visitor center as well. They have an amazing
staff of historians and nature experts that can take your visit to this
natural wonder to the next level.
Check out Kevin’s post on things to do in Adirondacks

 

George Washington National Forest

Hiking in George Washington National Forrest, VA- Duncan Knob Trail

Duncan Knob is a 7.8 mile, difficult, but dog-friendly loop trail. This is a strenuous hike with rocky pathways so I highly recommend wearing hiking boots. It is ranked hard because the highest peak of the trail reaches 1,679 ft. in elevation.

Getting there was complicated because the GPS we were using didn’t recognize the trail. We ended up having to put in the coordinates. It is a good idea to print or save the directions to the start and for the trail itself because there is no service once you are there and it’s easy to get lost (we learned that the hard way.) It starts at Crisman Hollow and then climbs to Peach Orchard Gap. There is a short trek on rocky ledges, then the trail descends to Duncan Hollow where it follows a rocky stream. Be careful, it gets slippery. After, it turns and crosses Middle Mountain where it loops back to Peach Orchard Gap back to Crisman Hollow.

It is best to do this trail in the fall so the weather is cool and breezy. It takes about 5 hours to complete, so be sure to pack plenty of water and bug spray, if you are loved by mosquitoes as much as I am. The trail is well shaded so sunscreen and sunglasses aren’t a necessity.

 

Hailey Harris with Diary of a Wanna be World Traveler

 

 

Adventure experiences at Olympic National Park

To really experience the Pacific Northwest you need to see its remote rainforest beaches. Olympic National Park in Washington has 35 miles of pristine coastline. And to get to it you’ll have to hike in – there is no road access. The beaches are a great place to explore the tide pools or see the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. And if you’re lucky you’ll spot whales, seals, otters and eagles. For the best scenery, I recommend hiking in with your camping gear and staying overnight.

 

There are several wilderness campsites along the coast. They are very basic sites (some don’t even have a pit toilet) so you will have to carry in everything you need and be totally self-sufficient. Be sure to get a permit from the park ranger’s office before you go. The best time to go is the summer, but some areas require reservations. If you want a challenge, you can hike the entire 35 mile coast over a few days. For shorter trips that maximize scenery I recommend the Ozette Loop or Shi Shi Beach. Both are easy hikes suitable for first time wilderness campers or kids.

Check out Taryn’s post on hiking and camping at Shi Shi beach

morel+mushrooms+Indiana

Morel Mushroom Foraging in Indiana

Tips“When in doubt, throw it out.” If you’re not 100% sure the mushroom you have found is a true morel do not eat it. When we first started hunting we carried an Audobon guide with us to help identify mushrooms and frequently did spore testing to make sure what we found was in fact edible. 

  • Morels don’t grow on trees but near/around the base of trees because they tend to be associated with and form a symbiotic relationship within the roots of the host trees and other plants nearby.
  • Look carefully at the forest floor because leaves can often be covering these sneaky little shrooms. Mature stands of oaks, elms, and hickory trees are a good place to start.
  • Trilliums, trout lilies, bloodroot, and mayapples are good environmental indicators because of their need for rich, moist soil with a healthy composition of nutrients and soil microbiota. 
  • Keep an eye on soil temperatures as well; different varieties will produce when they range from 50-60 degrees. 

Logistics – You don’t need to go far to have a successful trip. Head out to one of your favorite hiking trails and start looking. Make sure to bring mesh bags or baskets with you so the mushroom spores can fall to the ground as you keep looking. We also always treat our clothing and boots with permethrin to keep ticks and mosquitos at bay.

 

Best times – Spring is the season for morels in Indiana but it depends on what the weather is doing. Sometimes we’ve found them in March and sometimes it’s been late April. You have to learn how to interpret the landscape to have a successful hunt.

Check out Emily post on hunting morel mushrooms with Em’s on the Road

 

tent-rocks-mesa-top-mountain-valley-view

Hiking at Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico

 

Kasha-Katuwe, better known as Tent Rocks National Monument near Santa Fe, New Mexico, is an extraordinary geological sight, almost other-worldly, and aptly named. Cone-shaped tent-like rock formations, called hoodoos, highlight this unusual natural landscape; it is a product of erosion since volcanic eruptions from 6-7 million years ago.

We hiked the Canyon Trail at Tent Rocks in April, a moderate-to-difficult hike that took us from the canyon base to the mountaintop. It was exhilarating to hike through the slot canyon and scramble up above the hoodoos.

The Canyon Trail is a 1.5-mile trek each way through a narrow canyon up a steep 630-foot climb to the Mesa. Atop the Mesa, we were treated to spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande Valley.

An easier trail is the 1.2-mile easy Cave Loop Trail where the hoodoos are visible from the base, without the mountain and valley views.

Location:

Tent Rocks National Monument is located just under 1 hour west of Santa Fe in north-central New Mexico.

Tips:

  • The Canyon Trail is only difficult a couple of places.
  • Difficult, steep spots can be overcome by crawling up or down on your butt.
  • Be aware of the altitude; 6-7000 feet may make breathing difficult.
  • A hiking stick is helpful.
  • Tent Rocks is open from 8 AM – 4 PM, and you must be out by 5 PM.
  • Fee is $5 per car.
  • The sun is quite strong so wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and long-sleeves.

When to go:

  • Spring is a good time to go, before the summer crowds, and when the sun is not as strong.
  • The Monument is closed on certain holidays, so be sure to check the website. (Noel, If you can embed 1 additional link to make easier for people to check, it is – https://www.blm.gov/visit/kktr)

Check out Wendy’s post on Santa Fe, New Mexico on your bucket list

 

 

havasu-falls-arizona-wandering-wheatleys-7

Exploring Havasu Falls, Arizona

Havasu Falls is arguably the most picturesque waterfall in the entire United States – and one of the most challenging to visit. It is located deep in a canyon in Northern Arizona, 10 miles from the nearest road. It is only accessed by foot, horseback ride, or by helicopter. And you can’t just hike in for the day, you’ll need to plan way in advance to get a permit and be required to camp for at least one night.

The permits for the entire season (February 1 – November 30) become available on February 1st of every year and generally sell out within the first 2 weeks. It is recommended that you set a calendar reminder to get on their website as early as possible on February 1st to lock down your preferred dates. And try to be flexible – weekends and holidays get snatched up first. March and April are also generally less popular months to visit as the weather is a bit colder than the summer months.

Is all of that effort really worth it you ask? Just google images of Havasu Falls and you’re sure to be convinced. Turquoise blue water cascades 100′ down limestone cliffs into a tranquil swimming hole. Havasu Falls is so recognizable due to travertine formations from large amounts of calcium carbonate that give the pools an almost milky appearance.
And Havasu Falls isn’t the only beautiful waterfall in this area of land owned by the Havasupai Tribe. For those seeking additional adventures, there are several other beautiful falls further downstream although the descent to reach them is not for the faint of heart. Mooney Falls is quite similar to Havasu Falls, only taller, and is only a short walk from the campsite. And Beaver Falls is another ~2.5 miles from the base of Mooney Falls.
Check out Nick and Val’s post on camping and hiking Havasu falls
MaroonBells2

Exploring the Maroon Bells in Colorado

With its snow striped mountaintops surrounded by golden aspens, Maroon Bells is perhaps the most photographed mountains in the Rockies.  Visiting the Maroon Bells in Colorado deserves to be on every outdoor adventure enthusiast’s list. The red mudstone layers give the mountains their unique maroon coloring and its name.  When the light and weather conditions are right, the peaks reflect in the lake, and this image is on prints and postcards for sale at most gift shops in Colorado.  10 miles from Aspen up Maroon Creek Road, the Maroon Bells put on quite a show in Fall, when the aspen groves turn shades of yellow and gold.  

The most popular viewpoint of the Maroon Bells are from the shores of Maroon Lake, a pristine alpine lake. Hiking at the relatively easy trails is the best way to enjoy them. See here for three easy hiking trails at Maroon Bells Colorado with rewarding views – allow for plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and dress in warm layers. Keep in mind that climbing the Maroon Bells is fatal since the Mudstone is very fragile, causing loose rock on the climbing routes – these twin peaks are rightfully known as the “Deadly Bells.”
Check out Priya’s post on the Maroon Bells in Colorado

 

Maui Haleakala Skyline Zipline-38-min

Ziplining in Maui

If you’ve been to Maui, you know that Haleakala Crater is the most popular attraction on the island. As the highest peak on Maui, it is no doubt the best place to catch the sunrise. But for those who are looking to get the adrenaline pumping, you will want to also explore ziplining on the slopes of the Haleakala Crater!

With Skyline Eco-Adventure, you will soar through the eucalyptus forest with an incredible adrenaline rush. The sky-high adventure includes 5 individual ziplines, from easy to crazy, ending with a “Pendulum”-style zipline that swings back and forth up to over 45 mph!! In addition to ziplines, you will also face the challenge of walking across a swinging bridge that hangs 80 feet above the valley.

The best time for ziplining would be during the dry season (April – October). The ziplining tour alone takes 1.5 hours, available 7 days a week, throughout the day. Closed-toe shoes and a light jacket are strongly recommended. If you’re looking for a full Haleakala experience, packages with sunrise from the summit of Haleakala and a bike ride down the volcano are also being offered!! No matter which one you go with, you are guaranteed a good time!

Cat from For Two, Please

 

Sequoia National park adventure experience

Exploring Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is the land of the giants. There’s nothing like driving up a dry rocky terrain only to find yourself in one of the most magical places in the world. The giant Sequoia’s tower above as the cars and RVs in front of you are dwarfed by the incredible size of their trunks. Here are just some of the best things to do/see in the park.

Number one would have to be the General Sherman tree of course. It is literally the biggest attraction in the park! And by that I mean it is actually the largest single stem tree (by volume) in the world. The hike to General Sherman is fairly short and easy, but you should really experience the Big Trees trail also. The big trees trail is a one-mile loop that branches off the Sherman trail and takes you through a much more peaceful part of the forest which is also loaded with the gigantic trees.
If you’re looking for a nice view of the valley then you might be interested in Morro Rock. Morro Rock is a huge granite dome protruding from the mountain. And thanks to some crazy people from the 1800s, there are some crazy steps winding to the top to reveal a wonderful overlook. Although the hike less than a quarter mile there is a 300-foot elevation gain. Morro Rock is perfect for a quick stop on the way to do something else in the park. It can be done at any time of day depending on weather.

Family friendly adventure tours or experiences

Panoramic in Hoh Rainforest Olympic National Park 2

Hiking the trails at Hoh Rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest of Washington is truly unique to the United States. Between ancient cedars and giant maples, the hiking trails present several different views of this Pacific Northwest rainforest. From the Olympic National Park Hoh Visitors Center, head onto the Hall of Mosses or Spruce Trails to be surrounded by dripping moss and colorful fungi.

A four-hour drive from Seattle or five hours from Portland, exploring the westerns side of the Olympic Mountains is a dedicated trek and is best paired with either a stay at one of the Lodges of Olympic National Park or a camping trip, even in the cooler months. There is no public transportation to this part of the National Park, but tours are available out of Seattle if you’re interested in arranging a guided excursion.

The best time to visit the Hoh Rainforest is early November (elk rutting season and fall colors!) or late April when the forest is just waking up. The summer is also beautiful, but there are a lot of visitors hiking through the rainforest during the nicer months. No matter when you choose to visit, rainforest hiking in the Pacific Northwest is not to be missed.

Rob Taylor with 2traveldads.com

 

White Water Rafting Snake River

Family whitewater rafting on the Snake River

Whitewater rafting on the Snake River in Jackson, Wyoming has been one of my favorite outdoor adventure experiences. What made this trip even more memorable was that my kids were finally old enough to experience the thrill of white water rafting. There are quite a few rafting companies in Jackson Hole, as the Snake River has very popular class II and III rapids. We chose Mad River Outfitters and were very pleased with their prices, knowledgeable guides and overall experience. You can choose from a gentle scenic float on another section of the river or brave the whitewater on larger classic rafts (which we did), or smaller rafts for the more daring. There are even options to couple the experience with an outdoor BBQ lunch.
The best time to whitewater raft would be the summer, as the water temperatures are the mildest (60 degrees). Our group was also fortunate that Wyoming had plenty of snowfall this past winter, so the rivers were running high. Our guide explained to us that the more snow falls the in winter, the higher the water volume in the spring and summer (which makes for a better rafting experience). The entire trip on the river was about an hour, with some gentle stops along the way to jump in the cool water.
Although there is an element of danger with falling out of the raft during one of the rapids, our guide taught us what to do if we fell off and how to safely get back on the raft. We paddled, laughed and got soaked on this adventure. To date, this is my family’s most enjoyable outdoor experience and one we will look back on fondly.
Attached is the photo. I know you requested mostly landscape, but I had an action picture that is pretty great!
Margie with DQ Travel
bison-in-hayden-valley-passportsandadventures

Spotting Bison with a Three-year-old in Yellowstone National Park

One of the best outdoor adventures experiences we have had was during a 2-week road trip in North America which included a visit to Yellowstone National Park. We went as a family with our then three-year-old son at the end of August and had a blast. As well as seeing some of the wonders of Yellowstone such as Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring and the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, we also managed some animal spotting. Namely, bison.

And bison became the word of our trip. We bought our son some toy binoculars and he spent most of his time peering out the car window trying to spot them. Every time he saw one he shouted it out. They are scattered across the park, even around the springs of the Lower Geyer Basin along Firehole River. But the best place to see them is in the Hayden and Lamar Valley Areas.

Yellowstone National Park is an awesome place for a family trip, even with a pre-schooler. However, even at the end of August it was quite busy with most camping sites displaying a “FULL” sign. Attractions get busy during the day so get to the most popular ones early in the morning. And a car is a must!

Cath  Passports and Adventures

 

 

 

Joshua Tree National Park California

Family hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

One of the most memorable outdoor adventures we had with the kids in the US was hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. Located in Southern California, about 2 hours East of Los Angeles by car, Joshua Tree is often described as ‘otherworldly’ and indeed, it is different from anything we had even seen before.

The park lies where the Mojave and the Colorado deserts meet and its landscape is made of barren land dominated by large boulders and the so called ‘Joshua trees’, tall yucca plants stretching their spiky arms towards the sky.

You can visit Joshua Tree at any time of the year. The spring is the most popular time for outdoor pursuits but we went there in the summer and it was still possible to enjoy its stillness and beauty, despite the scorching heat.

In all seasons, good hiking shoes, a sun  hat and water are a must as sunstroke and dehydration are a significant danger.

The park has three visitors centre where you can get detailed maps of the area and a list of hikes of different levels of difficulties.

Many of them are under 1 hour long and suitable for families, making Joshua Tree a very easy yet impressive park to enjoy even with young kids.

Marta Correale with Learning Escapes

 

 

 

bodyglove tours Adventure trips in the USA

Family adventure snorkeling cruise on the Big Island

Those looking for a unique day adventure cruise should experience this cruise offered with Body Glove tours. The adventure tour starts early at the Kona pier and proceeds through the scenic coastlines while the captain explains all the sealife that happens in the area most of which include turtles, dolphins, whales in season and a variety of tropical fish. Along the route is a stop at the red rocks for snorkeling, exploring the coastline area and a nice barbeque lunch while enjoying this beautiful area.

 

Check out this cruise experience on the Big Island here for more inspiration and images to doing this particular tour.

 

 

 

Driving around Moab, UT

 

Outdoor  adventures in Canyonlands and the Moab Desert

During our week in Moab we saw some amazing scenery, biked beautiful trails and rode a jet boat down the Colorado River.  My favorite day, however, was the day we rented a jeep and got out in to the back-country.  We picked up the jeep from a local rental company and asked for family friendly trails that would still be fun for jeep enthusiast (we’ve owned 3 and we were seriously missing our jeep time).  What we later learned was the “beginner” trails in Moab are equal to the “oh, crap what are you thinking” trails from the rest of the country. 

  

We started with the Gemini Bridges Trail then we took was Shafer Trail near canyonlands National Park.  It’s an old cattle trail turned mining trail turned 4wd trail.   What we didn’t know about the trail is that it starts with very steep switchbacks winding down the side of a cliff.  The views are spectacular but the fall … just don’t look down.  The trail then meanders through more beautiful back country scenery.  Moab is Desert so Summer is not the best time to explore this area of the country.  It’s just too hot.  Fall and Spring would be the best choice.  It is a very family friendly area but be sure to ask enough questions to pick trails and activities within your comfort level.  I would not recommend this as a family trail for someone uncomfortable with 4wd vehicles.  Be sure to pack plenty water, snacks and food.  You may only see a couple of other vehicles and you will definitely not find anything to eat.  There was one port a potty at the bottom of the cliff just after we gave up on finding facilities – oops.  Just be prepared, take your time and enjoy the views!

Check out  Lori’s post on Moab with kids

 

 

helicopter over the Big Island

Open door helicopter flight above Big Island, Hawaii

 

The Hawai’I Volcanoes National Park is an absolutely breath-taking place on Earth. Not only does is stretch along the size of 323,431 acres, but also does it encompass two active volcanoes: Kilauea, which has just erupted a couple of weeks ago and Mauna Loa, which is the world’s most massive shield volcano. When entering the park, you might feel as if you have just landed on the moon. Left and right on the road, you’ll find endless fields covered in lava ash which makes the entire park look surreal and unique. A visit to the park can be super diverse: Start off by visiting the information center, where you get all information on short and long hikes, as well as on the major things to see and roads to drive. Also, the park is super easy to drive through in your own rental car. But above all, the most amazing thing to do here is a helicopter flight right above the National Park – with open doors! Imagine getting so close to an active volcano that you can not only smell it, but also see the bubbly lava inside the crater. Absolutely amazing!

Fun fact: Hawai’I Volcanoes National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a World Heritage Site in 1987. Just in 2012 the park was honoured on the 14th quarter of the America the Beautiful Quarter series. Do you need more reasons to visit?

Clemens with Travellers Archive

 

 

Unusual adventure experiences in the USA

 

 

sanbar camping in the Mississippi river

Sandbar camping along the Mississippi River

Wild sandbar camping in the Mississippi River (Iowa) from Kylie at Between England and Iowa
An unusual outdoor adventure that can be found in the USA, is wild camping on the sandbars in the Mississippi River!  There are various little islands and sandbars dotted along the river that you are allowed to camp on for free, for up the 14 days.  The best way to reach the sandbars is by boat or by kayak, keep in mind that the current of the Mississippi River can be strong so it’s best to travel ‘down stream’.  Whatever mode of travel you choose, you’ll also have to carry all gear (tents, sleeping bags, food, water etc).  Some good places to drop in would be Guttenberg Iowa (below lock and dam 12) or Dubuque Iowa (below lock and dam 11). There are some rules however that campers have to adhere to, such as not leaving the camping site unattended for more than 24 hours, after 14 days you have to move on to a different sandbar more than a set distance away, fires can only be mad with fallen branches (no cutting down live trees) and of course taking all your litter away with you.  This are displayed on information boards on some of the larger sandbars.
The best time to go sandbar camping is during the summer.  Early in the season, be careful with higher river levels and debris that may have been caught up in ice while the river was frozen during the winter.
They are also great for just a day trip!  I’ve been out a couple of times and it’s a great way to feel like you’re on your own deserted island for a few hours!  Whether it’s just stopped and cooking lunch over a camp fire, fishing or relaxing on the beach and spending some time reading or swimming.
Check out Kylie’s post on Mississippi River camping
Forest_bathing adventure experience

Forest Bathing in the Adirondacks

The practice called “forest bathing” draws its origins from the Japanese “Shinrin-yoku“. It means taking in the forest atmosphere through all of your senses. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the fresh, clean air give a sense of comfort. In the USA it has started to become a trend only lately, especially on the East Coast. Used as a way to ease stress and worry, it is to be practiced in tiny groups with the help of a professional guide.

The eco-company Adirondack Riverwalking  offers this kind of experience in a forest that belongs to the Paul Smith’s College VIC . All the guests have to wear appropriate clothing, with specific requirements that are disclosed when the company confirms your participation to the forest bathing session.

Once you reach the forest, you get to know the person who will help you through the sensory walk. The aim isn’t just to relax and experience the forest in a completely different way: your guide will in fact help you to open your senses to the sights, sounds, smells and textures of the Adirondack woods. The session also includes meditation.

In case you are worried that you might not make it to the end, don’t be! Forest Bathing in the Adirondacks is practiced on very gentle terrain and it doesn’t cover more than ¾ mile in a 2.5 hour walk. When the session is over, all the participants sit together on the college’s terrace to sip a very special tea. It is in fact prepared with leaves and flowers gathered during your forest bathing session. While sipping tea you will also have the chance to open up to the other participants, discussing your experience and sharing your feelings.

The same company also offers another eco-activity: Riverwalking. Guests get to wear a pair of waders and step into the Ausable river to take in the sounds of the river and feel the flowing current. It is a different calming and invigorating activity that uses the sounds of nature to open your senses.

While forest bathing is an activity that can be experienced whenever you want, the best season for it is probably Autumn, because the Adirondacks are famous for their beautiful foliage!

Check out Danila’s post on visiting the Adirondack peaks

Nebraska river adventure shot

Horsetank floating in the Niobrara river in Northern Nebraska

Most people ignore the land locked state of Nebraska when it comes to travel.  Which is actually ok for us locals, because that means that all the fun stuff to do is never too crowded and over run with tourists.
However, one thing does bring people to the Cornhusker State because of it’s uniqueness, and that is river tanking.
Yes.  It sounds just like what it is- you and a group of friends pile into a rented horse tank (NO, not all Nebraskans are farmers, so yes, you have to book through local outfitters!), crack open some beers and float down the lazy Niobrara river in northern Nebraska.  Take pit stops along the way to walk under waterfalls or even stop for the night and camp under the stars for an absolutely unforgettable weekend adventure.
While it’s not going to excite the hard core adrenaline junkies, laughter and memories are guaranteed as you sail down the river in the most unusual flotation device!
When to go Tanking on the Niobrara: The best time to rent a tank is clearly the summer months.  But if you want the river basically to yourself, try to aim for midweek, as weekends can get quite crowded. There are plenty of local outfitters that you can rent kayaks and tubes from as well as the horse tanks (some of which are even converted to have seats, coolers and more!) that start at the town of Valentine and end near the town of Niobrara.
Check out LeAnna’s post on Niobrara State Park  

Water sports activities around the USA

 

Orca watching at Puget Sound

Orca and whale watching in Puget Sound

If you’re visiting the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, one of the most thrilling adventures you can have is to head out on an orca watching adventure in the Puget Sound. The coastal waters of Washington and British Columbia are popular feeding grounds for a number of whale species, including humpback, gray, minke, and fin whales, but what makes this area especially exciting is the large number of resident and transient orcas that live or feed off shore.

 

Whale watching excursions leave from several locations in the Salish Sea, but one of the easiest places to begin your journey is in Port Townsend, Washington. The full-day whale watching excursion is a family-friendly adventure, leaving the marina at 9 am, and returning by 6 pm. You will head across the Puget Sound to the San Juan Islands, where you will likely see many of the whales mentioned above, as well as tufted puffins, steller and California Sea Lions, otters, porpoises, and seals.

 

Orcas are very common throughout the area, but especially of the coast of San Juan Island. The resident naturalists on board can easily identify resident orcas by name and number, and are incredibly knowledgeable about their social structures and behavior. Many whales make the Salish Sea their permanent home, but you will see more a larger variety of whales if you visit during the summer months.
 
Check out Tara’s post on Puget Sound whale watching 

Ginnie_Springs in Central Florida

Under water caving in Central Florida

Throughout Central Florida, an area where the land is made nearly entirely of soft limestone rock, there are pockets along rivers and bodies of water that have been washed away over millennia – much like the cenotes one finds in Mexico. These areas, over time, are filled with fresh water, creating the underground cave system in the fresh springs of the area.

Because of the amazing underground anomalies, adventure seekers from around the United States year-round to snorkel, dive, and explore caves that can go beyond 100 feet deep under the surface of rivers and springs in Central Florida. In fact, teams of professional divers, diving instructors, and underwater explorers with syndicated shows flock to the area to explore the underwater cave systems, dive deep, and see what the spring waters under Central Florida offer. Areas such as Ginnie Springs, near Gainesville, offer camping and off-road paths, as well as down-river rafting alongside these deep and ancient springs, making the area one of the most popular in the United States to enjoy the labyrinth of pathways.

In addition to being visually stunning, the underwater cave system is immense, and features a variety of freshwater wildlife. Luckily, the temperature of these underwater cave systems is typically too cool to feature another frequent visitor to Central Florida waters – alligators!

Justin and Tracy with                 
A Couple for the Road

 

spiegel-grove at Key Largo

Diving at Key Largo

Key Largo is the first stop in the Florida Keys, and it is roughly a one-hour drive from either Miami or Fort Lauderdale Airports. Diving in Key Largo is one of the most cool, fun, and unusual things to do in the Florida Keys.

Dubbed the “Diving Capital of the World,” Key Largo offers some of the best diving sites in the continental USA.

Here, you can dive some of the most famous coral reef system in Florida – Molasses Reef and French Reef are two of the most popular. You’ll find different types of fish, rays, sea turtles, and sometimes even dolphins in these waters.

For a cool diving adventure, check out some of Key Largo’s well-known shipwrecks. One of them is the famous USS Spiegel Grove wreck – a Thomaston-class dock landing ship that was purposely sunk in 2002. The Spiegel now rests 60-130 feet below the surface. You can explore this massive ship, which still bears the US Flag.

There are several reliable dive operations in Key Largo. We recommend Rainbow Reef, as the staff is quite attentive to guests and puts a lot of emphasis on safety. The best time to visit Key Largo is during the summer season. Keep in mind that you will need to be flexible if you want to visit the Florida Keys during hurricane season, which starts in September.

 

Halef with The RTW guys

 

Jacob's Well, Texas Collaboration

Swimming hole fun at Jacob’s Well

Jacob’s Well is swimming hole in Texas Hill Country, that flows from Cypress Creek. This natural spring attracts locals and tourists alike to cool off from the heat of the Texas sun.
Getting a spot to experience the beautiful Jacob’s Well. While visiting and looking at the well is free and can be done without reservation within opening times. There are 60 spots in every time 2 hour allotted time slot for swimming.
If you’re up for a little bit more of excitement, there is a small rock you can jump off into the crystal clear water of the hole. It’s a good thing that the height isn’t much higher, as it is fairly easy to misjudge the size of the hole.
This vertical hole is considered one of the most dangerous diving spots in the world as at least 8 people have died. At the base of the well, a small cave entrance is visible, but the sunlight begins to filter and becomes eerie quite quickly.
Jacob’s Well is less than one hour drive south-west from Austin, so it makes a day trip. Whether you’re after a refreshing dip – and the water is quite chilly – or just visit a beautiful natural site, Jacob’s Well has something on offer for everyone.
Ben McLaughlan at Horizon Unknown
Floating on the Gaudalupe river

Fun on the Guadalupe River in Texas

The Guadalupe River, a favorite destination for Texas locals and visitors, meanders past limestone cliffs and mounds of gnarled cypress roots looking like they are dipping their toes in the river as they reach for water. Thousands will travel to this cool water mecca to escape Texas’ sweltering hot summer for a day of kayaking, tubing or rafting. The best times to float the river are from June to the end of August. Float launch sites are located in New Braunfels, Texas, roughly a one-hour drive from both San Antonio and Austin makes floating the Guadalupe an easy day trip or a quick weekend getaway. Along the twelve miles of river are over 30 outfitters  that rent heavy rubber tubes in two different styles. One style is the standard open-bottom tube that you sit in and the other style has a closed-bottom to hold small coolers or waterproof bags with towels. The sun reflecting off the water is deceptively brutal so make sure to bring sunscreen and sunglasses. A brimmed hat to protect your face and a short-sleeved shirt to cover your shoulders is also a good idea.
Check out Donna’s post on the Gaudalupe River experience 
Adventure Dragon Tubing in Helen GA

River tubing the Chattahoochee River in Helen, GA

At the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia, a bubbling river flows through a tiny German village that looks more like someplace from a fairytale than a U.S. town. Although it houses just 430 residents, Helen, Georgia is the third most visited city in the state, and its popularity is attributed to its quirky charms, Bavarian-style architecture, and bustling activities. Tubing the Chattahoochee River is one of the most popular things to do, and two separate companies offer these river adventures. You can pay just $5.00 for a single ride lasting approximately 2.5 hours, or you can opt for an all-day pass for $12.00 with Cool River Tubing. Alternatively, if you’d like to include water slides with your river fun, a $20.00 admission to Helen Tubing and Water Park will give you unlimited access to four 50-feet-tall slides as well as all-day tubing down the Chattahoochee. Both companies provide free shuttle transportation back and forth between their properties and the river. Helen lies just an hour and a half north of Atlanta, so it’s a perfect adventure for city kids looking to escape the sweltering heat of the summer. The rapids are gentle enough that small kids can join in on the fun, so you can also bring your whole family for this outdoor adventure. Once you’ve tired of the water and built up an appetite, I recommend having dinner at the Troll’s Tavern. It sits nestled alongside the Chattahoochee and is known for its riverfront dining, so you can watch the tubers float by as you eat authentic German cuisine.

For more information about tubing in Helen, you can check out my guide to Things to Do in Helen, GA.

Jillian with Adventure Travel

 

 

Winter adventure experiences in the USA

Skiing adventure in Whitefish

Skiing Whitefish Mountain

Whitefish, Montana is wonderful winter destination and the skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort is fantastic.  The town is located near Glacier National Park and 66 miles from the Canada-US Border. 

The mountain often gets dumps of knee-deep powder and offers a number of runs for all abilities.  The Hell Roaring Basin is the most challenging skiing on the mountain and has some excellent steeps and trees for strong skiiers. The weather on the mountain is frequented by “inversions” where the cloud cover stays low in the valley and skiiers can literally ski above the clouds.  This also makes the top of the mountain warmer and provides fantastic views.

 

The town of Whitefish is worth taking some time to explore and enjoying for a bit of apres-ski. There are several touristy shops with all manner of quaint items that would be perfect for decorating a ski cabin.  The local pub, the Bulldog Saloon serves delicious burgers with an interesting ambience (make sure you visit the bathrooms…)  The Great Northern Brewery Company and Craggy Range both have a variety of local craft beers on tap and the latter has excellent food as well.    

Check out Phillip’s post on the best ski resorts near Calgary

 

camelback-mountain-tubing

Snow Tubing in Camelback PA

Camelback Mountain Resort in the Pocono Mountains is just a 2-hour drive from New York City, and is renowned as a ski resort, with 37 ski trails ranging from green to double diamond.

For real fun in the snow though, Camelback also boasts the biggest snow tubing park in the United States. With 42 snow tubing lanes, you can race your friends and family to the bottom – and with two magic carpet lifts, you don’t even have to drag your tube back up to the top! They have double tubes too, so you can take the little ones with you.

This is obviously a winter-only sport, so dependent on snow you can expect to tube from late November to early April. Thanks to 1200 snow making guns, they can keep the season going longer here.

As it is so close to New York City, Camelback can be visited as a day trip but we chose to stay at the Camelback Resort, which is super family friendly. There’s loads of fun to be had here for families, with an onsite indoor water park with a wave pool and selection of water slides and an indoor ropes course.

Name: Marianne Rogerson with Mum on the Move

 

adventure experiences at the Apostle Islands

Apostle Islands and Sea Caves in Winter

 Summer may be the peak season for many places but the Apostle Island Sea Caves are great to visit in the winter.  The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is located in Northern Wisconsin on Lake Superior.

 In the winter, Lake Superior freezes over and you are able to walk on the ice to the sea caves that have formed along the shore.  They are spectacular to see in the winter as the water that has frozen to the red stone caves and even waterfalls have frozen into place.

 You are also able to walk into the caves in the winter whereas if you visit in the summer and take a boat you can only view the caves from outside as the water is too rough to enter the caves.

I recommend checking the National Park Service website to check the Ice conditions and if the mainland ice caves are open or closed.  I would wear waterproof snow boots as the snow will melt and of course warm clothes.

Check out Nicole’s post on things to do in Bayfield and the Apostle Islands 

 

 Mount-rainier-snowshoe-trees

Exploring Mt. Rainer in winter

Mount Rainier is the gem and symbol of Washington State, and for good reason. In summer, the alpine fields are bright green, hewn with
wildflowers spread like a carpet towards dramatic mountain vistas. In
winter, swaths of snow and ice crystals cover everything in sight,
making the world sparkle in the sun and the branches of evergreen trees laden with heavy snow. The snowshoeing season picks up around December, snow dependent of course, and lasts well into the beginning of spring.
There are numerous snowshoe trails throughout the Park, including a
seasonal, Ranger-led walk starting from Paradise, which is perfect for
beginners to snowshoeing and the mountain. For those doing a guided
walk, snowshoes can be rented at the Paradise Visitor’s Center, and for
anyone going on their own, rentals can be obtained at the Longmire
Visitor’s Center, as well as a handful of locations outside the Park.
One of the best trails to snowshoe, albeit one of the more well-traveled, leads 1.5 miles up the mountain to Glacier Vista from
Paradise to an incredible viewpoint of the Tatoosh Range, Mount Adams, and Mount Saint Helens. If you’re more experienced at snowshoeing and recognizing avalanche danger, you can also do the longer and more challenging Panorama Point trail. Always check the avalanche conditions and weather report with the Visitor’s Center before heading out, as conditions can change rapidly in the mountains, and pick up a trail map from the rangers on site. Don’t forget to protect your eyes and skin from the bright sun, especially in snowy conditions at these elevations.
Head out to Mount Rainier for your next winter adventure to see why it is aptly named Paradise!

Christa with Expedition Wildlife

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