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1.Mount Bike the Tahoe Rim Trail
Encircling the largest alpine lake in North America, the 165-mile (266-kilometer) Tahoe Rim Trail just may be the singletrack with the greatest view in the United States. More than 80 miles (129 kilometers) of the trail are open to mountain bikes. In fact, the riding here is so sublime that the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) named the 21.8-mile (35-kilometer) section between Tahoe Meadows and Spooner Summit as one of its Epics, an honor bestowed on trails that epitomize the best that mountain biking has to offer.
For good reason: The trail takes in gritty climbs and fast descents with spectacular views of Tahoe to the west and the Nevada desert to the east. Nine miles (14 kilometers) in, you’ll split off onto the adjacent 22-mile (35-kilometer) Flume Trail, which starts at the Spooner Lake campground. Though not officially part of the Rim Trail itself, it’s the signature ride here, and it requires a decent climb and a bit of singletrack to get down. Just remember, it’s tough to keep your eyes on the trail with all those eye-popping views of the lake. One of the best things about the rides on the Rim Trail is that it can be just as much fun for novices as it is for fat-tire vets.
Need to Know: Some sections of the trail are only open to bikes on certain days. Many local bike shops provide shuttles for the point-to-point rides in the Rim Trail. Rent bikes and check in on trail conditions at Flume Trail Mountain Bikes (www.theflumetrail.com). Bike rentals start at $45 a day; shuttles from $15.Read about the trail at www.tahoerimtrail.org.
Mountain Biking The Tahoe Rim Trail
2.Paddle Lake Powel
2.Paddle Lake Powel
The huge upside of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, nexus of an environmental battle lost a generation ago, is the emergence of its progeny, Lake Powell, as a supreme freshwater kayaking destination. The lake’s green-water tentacles extend from the main 185-mile (300-kilometer) watercourse into 96 side canyons, where kayakers can paddle free of tides, waves, currents, and motorboats. A reverential hush inevitably descends upon a group of kayakers when they proceed into slots of Navajo sandstone towering 500 feet (150 meters) overhead that constrict to barely the length of a paddle.
The size and complexity of the lake convey both challenge and mystery to the experience. Kayakers wanting to go the DIY route might need two full days to get to the best kayaking—and even then they can find themselves paddling into inviting slots that turn out to be blank walls. Outfitters provide a motor assist and the local beta for five-day trips that get you into canyons like Cascade, Driftwood, and Rainbow, beneath the numinous presence of Navajo Mountain (10,388 feet, or 3,166 meters) and the Kaiparowits Plateau. Rainbow Canyon is the gateway to the massive natural arch of Rainbow Bridge.
The typical routine is to paddle eight to ten miles (13 to 16 kilometers) a day, venture into a slot, cross the channel, paddle another, proceed afoot when the canyon closes in entirely, and paddle back out to camp on the main channel where sunset, stars, and sunrise are players in the drama.
Spring and fall are the best times to paddle free of the swarms of speedboats and personal watercraft that plague the lake in summer. Warm water lingers right into fall.
Need to Know: No fees or permits are required to enjoy Lake Powell. Get general info at www.nps.gov/glca. Outfitters and rentals: Kayak Powell (www.kayakpowell.com) provides shuttles, tours, and rentals. A five-day tour starts at $895.Lake Powell Kayaking 1
Lake Powell Kayaking 2
For the slideshow click this link
A view from the top of the Glen Canyon NRA, Wahweap State Line Launch Ramp, Arizona/Utah.
3.Heli-Ski the Ruby Mountains
Located about halfway between Reno and Salt Lake City off a lonely stretch of Interstate 80, Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience offers an Alaska-size day of powder shots in the Lower 48. Only in the isolated Ruby Mountains, you won’t have to share any of it with other backcountry skiers or snowboarders. Plus, this overlooked little range offers the ideal terrain for big mountain powder with ten peaks topping out over at 11,000 feet (3,353 meters) and an average of 300 inches (nearly 8 meters) of dry, desert snow each year—not necessarily Alaska levels, but the snow here is pure western fluff.
The best package consists of three days of flying to untracked skiing in terrain ranging from trees to open glades to steeps (depending upon conditions), with a guarantee of 39,000 vertical feet (11,887 meters) of turns for the trip. If the weather grounds your bird, the guides will still take you out cat-skiing and prorate your bill according to the amount of vertical you missed by not flying.
Best of all, when your legs are shot, you can relax back at the ranch. Reds Ranch (www.redsranchnv.com), that is, a ten-bedroom lodge that features in-room massages and gourmet meals. And save room for dessert: After eating up powder all day and feasting at the lodge, you’ll be served a seven-layer opera cake and a glass of Crown Royal.
Need to Know: Opt for the all-inclusive, three-day trip from Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience, starting at $4,250 (www.helicopterskiing.com).Ruby Mountain Heli Ski
4.Hike the Zion Narrows
If any place has the power to inspire awe, it’s the Zion Narrows, southern Utah’s premier hike in Zion National Park. For 16 miles (26 kilometers), the canyon winds voluptuously through the crimson sandstone, in some spots stretching 2,000 feet (610 meters) high and narrowing to 20 feet (6 meters).
Hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park
5.Dive Freshwater Caves
Little known fact: Florida’s best diving isn’t in its saltwater. It’s hidden in the northwestern corner of the state, which is riddled with freshwater springs that flow through mazes of limestone passageways. Few people ever witness the strange sights of these underwater chambers—fossils, sunlight beaming in from holes in the cave ceilings, and even ancient mastodon tusks—because the only way to see it all is by donning a mask and flippers. Cave diving is rife with potential dangers. The good news is beyond good training, all it really necessitates is a little nerve.
Test the waters at Ginnie Springs Cavern, a beginner cave that Jacques Cousteau once described as “visibility forever.” It requires only an open-water diver certification. From an aquamarine, cypress-lined pool, descend and enter a chamber called the Ballroom, 130 feet (40 meters) long and 55 feet (17 meters) deep. There you can see water’s artwork in the limestone formations and feel the force of 30-plus million gallons of water per day pouring out of the inner cave entrance.
To graduate to the 6.5 miles (10 kilometers) of passageways in the Devil’s cave system, take a cavern or cave certification course at Ginnie Springs. Claustrophobes be forewarned: The tiniest swim-throughs require divers to take off their tanks to squeeze through. But the reward of these contortions is witnessing a vast watery underworld, some of which still remains unmapped.
Need to Know: Ginnie Springs Outdoors (www.ginniespringsoutdoors.com) is a certified PADI dive center and offers guided dives as well as cave-diving training. Diving Ginnie Springs itself doesn’t require a guide and costs $30 for open-water divers.PADI Certified Dive Center
National Geographic / PADI
6.Learn to Fly a Wingsuit
Learning how to jump out of an airplane wearing something that looks like a superhero costume—and then, well, fly like one—sounds like the most impossible, extreme thing a person could try. Really, it’s not. Modern wingsuits, which consist of extra fabric under the arms and between the legs to provide enough lift for flight, are popular and allow parachutists to enjoy freefall longer.
That’s not to say wingsuits are not dangerous and don’t require a lot of training to use, just that they aren’t some impossible dream. You do need to be an accomplished skydiver—200 jumps are required before you can begin to wingsuit—but you can commit to the goal of flying even if you have never jumped out of a plane before.
Brook Shinsky, 33, who works at The North Face, did just that, spending several years accumulating her 200 jumps and flying a wingsuit on jump number 201. “Wingsuiting was my goal from the start,” she says. “It’s something I never thought I'd be doing, but now I can't imagine ever not doing it. If I can do it, anyone can do it. You just need to have a little faith.”
A handful of skydiving operations across the country offer wingsuit classes and make special accommodations for wingsuits on jumps. Get good at it and you become part of a select community of fliers. Shinsky participated in her first Bigway event, flying with 23 other wingsuiters, this year. “It’s a way to work through anxiety on a weekly basis—way more fun than therapy,” she says. “I learn how to trust myself, my equipment, other people, and let go of the things that I cannot control.”
Need to Know: There are many qualified wingsuit instructors across the country, with first flight courses starting at $100. Options include Texas Wingsuit Academy in Texas (www.texaswingsuitacademy.com), Z-Hills in Florida (www.z-flock.com), WestCoast Wingsuits in California (www.westcoastwingsuits.com), Flock University in Massachusetts (www.flockuniversity.org) or Brothers Gray Wingsuit Academy in Maryland (www.myspace.com/thebrothersgray).Switzerland base jumping with wingsuit.
7.Raft the Owyhee River
The last great underappreciated epic river in the Lower 48, the Owyhee weaves through Idaho’s southwestern sage steppes, cutting deep canyons into cliffs of volcanic rhyolite. Surrounded by an ocean of three million acres (1.2 million hectares) of sagebrush desert, the Owyhee, as locals call the whole region, is rich with songbirds and sage grouse leks, ancient archaeological sites, and ruined homesteads. The river itself flows over 200 miles (322 kilometers) from the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada up through the lonesome wilds of southwest Idaho until it dumps into the Snake River in Oregon.
The area was protected in 2009 by the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, which set aside 517,000 acres (209,000 hectares) of the Owyhee as wilderness and designated 316 miles (509 miles) of the river and its tributaries as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The bill was a joint effort, a compromise between conservationists, cattlemen, and Republican Senator Mike Crapo, who all thought the place deserved be protected—not a common occurrence in Idaho.
If you want to explore the canyons of the Owyhee, you can take your pick of trips, ranging from a one-day float down the popular stretch in Oregon to a weeklong expedition that starts in Nevada and navigates up to Class V whitewater. One of the best options is to start on the South Fork of the Owyhee, a Class III tributary that exemplifies the river’s high walls and winsome character. Make sure to take the time to scramble up and out of the canyon for a view of the meandering river and the huge, wide open sage steppes, which are a similar ecosystem to those in Mongolia.
Need to Know: A five-day trip with Wilderness River Outfitters (www.wildernessriver.com) costs $1,340.
Middle Fork Salmon July 3rd
8.Bodysurf the Wedge
Most of the time, when humans mess with nature, they lose. But at the Wedge, a monstrously big and powerful break off Newport Beach, California, they hit the jackpot—for bodysurfers, that is. There, an Army Corps of Engineers jetty relays big swells, forming slow-moving, pyramid-shaped waves that, during South Pacific storm cycles, can top 30 feet (9 meters). They’re too steep for surfers but perfect for the ultimate man-versus-nature contest: bodysurfing.
When the surf goes off, as many as 15 locals brave the indiscriminate spin cycle in hopes of catching a wave’s sweet spot. “The absolute most difficult part of it all is the moment you decide to go,” says Fred Simpson, owner of Viper Surfing Fins and a Wedge veteran. After that, there’s a purgatory of about five seconds, when even the best bodysurfers won’t know whether the wave, like an unbroken mustang, will let them mount or pitch them forward with the force of the South Pacific hurricane that birthed it. If they succeed, the reward is the ultimate rush: a perfect 50-yard (45-meter) glide through water moving as fast as that from a fire hose.
On high-surf days, only the bravest—and most practiced—take to the water, but as many as a thousand spectators come to watch and feel the reverberating rumble of the waves from a 15-foot (5-meter) sand berm that makes a natural stadium. The waves break so close to shore, they offer an opportunity rare in the world of bodysurfing: An onlooker can see the open-mouth, wide-eyed, absolutely-in-the-moment expression on a bodysurfer’s face as he or she takes on Mother Nature.
Need to Know: Locals say that if someone has to explain how to bodysurf the Wedge, you shouldn’t be there. Thus, there are no lessons available, and newcomers must bring fins and demonstrate their skills for the beach’s gantlet of lifeguards. Practice on nearby beaches and low-surf days.Big day at The Wedge
9.Camp with Alaskan Brown Bears
It’s thrilling to see big browns with no fence or barrier between you and them. At the Great Alaska International Adventure Vacations Bear Camp, you can quietly watch a dozen or more brown bears from a spruce-fringed meadow that lies between Mount Iliamna in Lake Clark National Park & Preserve and Cook Inlet. Or try out the camp’s viewing platform elevated 15 feet (4.5 meters) above the grassy plain, where hungry brown bears congregate in late spring and summer to fatten up on the supple shoots. (In case you were wondering, it’s black bears that climb trees; browns prefer to push the tree over. Listen to your guide and stick to protocol, and you’ll be safe.)
In June and July the bears stick to the meadow. By mid-August the action shifts to a nearby stream, where the bears glut on spawning salmon and teach their cubs how to fish. It’s precisely this abundance of food that accounts for Alaska coastal brown bears’ prodigious size (650 to 700 pounds, or 295 to 318 kilograms, is typical)—they are somewhat larger than their interior grizzly cousins. It also explains the remarkable numbers of their congregations. It’s not unusual to see 20 at a time from your chosen Bear Camp perspective.
Camp is a cluster of eight heated, portable huts arrayed along the beach where long days permit plenty of time between viewing sessions to gather for meals or a campfire and trade bear lore and lies. Shellfish are abundant, so there’s a good chance you too will do some glutting on fresh local bounty.
Need to Know: Great Alaska Bear Camp (www.greatalaska.com) offers one- to three-day camps that include the flight across Cook Inlet from Soldotna, from $1,095.Wild Alaska
10.Fly-Fish the Spring Creeks of Paradise Valley
According to Montana author Norman Maclean, the only pure way to catch a trout is on a dry fly. After all, in the first lines of his A River Runs Through It, one of MacLean’s characters says that “all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.” And there is no more religious experience for a dry fly angler than catching big trout on the spring creeks of Montana’s Paradise Valley. These slow, rich, clear waters require great art with a fly rod, but they also pay out the greatest reward—big, fat rainbow and brown trout.
The scenery here is straight out of a Robert Redford movie—crystal waters licked by willows with the crags of the Absaroka Range towering above it all. The three famed spring creeks—Armstrong’s, DePuy’s, and Nelson’s—all have their own quirks. But they are similar in that, even though they are less than 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers) long, their rich waters produce the big trout perfect for high-calories meals. For the true trout bum, it’s the apex of the sport.
Need to Know: Some experience fly-fishing is best before you take on the holy grail. Yellowstone Angler (www.yellowstoneangler.com) will guide you to all three creeks, starting at $425 per person. You will need a Montana fishing license, and the owners of the creeks recommend guides and reservations.
Guide Jason Elkins floating the "bird float"
from Grey Owl to Mallard's Rest
11.Ice Climb Hyalite Canyon
The ice of Hyalite Canyon, just south of Bozeman, has gained fame as the proving ground of legendary Himalaya climbers Conrad Anker and Alex Lowe, as well as a spot for the locals to just get out and swing their picks. Filled with countless waterfalls in the summer, Hyalite sets up with a smorgasbord of ice climbs in the winter. Routes range from popular, consistent classics to ephemeral wisps of ice that have only have been climbed one season.
The Genesis area is the center of most action, since it requires only a scramble from the parking lot to access and offers standards like Sleeping Giant Falls (WI 4) and Genesis II (WI 3 ). More daunting is a rare climb like Black Magic (WI 5). Starting in 2007 there was some controversy about keeping the Hyalite Canyon Road plowed in winter, but the Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition has worked with the Gallatin National Forest to ensure access remains open to one of the best natural ice climbing playgrounds in the country.
Need to Know: An extensive online climbing guide to the Hyalites can be found at Montana Ice and Alpine Recreation (www.montanaice.com). Barrel Mountaineering in Bozeman has information and equipment and can set you up with guides (www.barrelmountaineering.com).Ice Climbing in Hyalite Canyon, Montana
12.Back Country Sky the 10th Mountain Division Huts
Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Huts are the fruits of one man’s crazy idea: Fritz Benedict, a 10th Mountain Division soldier who fought in World War II and an Aspen architect, dreamed of setting up a system of winter huts to rival the Alps’ Haute Route. The results arguably outdid the Europeans at their own game. Today, the system, located on the division’s former training grounds between Aspen, Vail, and Leadville, is 14 huts strong and connects to another 17 in the area. Linked with 300-plus miles (483-plus kilometers) of skiable routes, it’s the largest system of its kind on the continent.
It also accesses the best of Rocky Mountain skiing and a menu of terrain and scenery as diverse as the state itself. Choose to stay at one or to link up several. Backcountry beginners often head to the McNamara Hut, a stone’s throw from mellow intermediate ski touring. Or, for seasoned alpine tourers and telemarkers, the Eiseman Hut has access to steep couloirs and lines that’ll grow hair on most anyone’s chest.
No matter the level of challenge, the greatest reward is returning to the huts themselves. “Hut,” in fact, might be a misnomer: These are more like miniature trophy homes, with wood-fired heating stoves, propane cook stoves, porches, private rooms, million-dollar views, and sometimes even saunas. Come evening, after a long day and a good dinner, kick back by the fire in the grand tradition of America’s storied ski pioneers.
Need to Know: The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association (www.huts.org) holds a lottery for winter hut reservations every spring. Huts from $30 per person, and guides are available.
History of 10th Mountain Division and vail
13.Boulder Hueco Tanks
It’s the climber’s equivalent of Mecca: Every winter, between November and March, thousands of climbers from across the world make the pilgrimage to Hueco Tanks, an 860-acre (348-hectare) bouldering area outside El Paso, Texas, with more than 2,000 problems—and counting. It’s renowned for its dry, sunny weather, bombproof igneous rock, and fantastical rock formations that make for endlessly challenging climbing.
Though the problems get as hard as V15—picture holds the size of a housefly on an overhanging rock—the beauty of Hueco Tanks is that there’s such an abundance, variety, and concentration of problems that a veteran and a newbie can challenge themselves within spitting distance. The atmosphere, therefore, is decidedly inclusive and laid-back. Whether you arrive with friends or solo, seasoned or brand-new, you’re virtually guaranteed a personal cheering section.
A large part of the experience is staying at the ten-acre (four-hectare) Hueco Rock Ranch, a campground, guesthouse, pro shop, and gathering spot where climbers often camp for months. It’s an immersion into come-as-you-are climber culture: Each night climbers of all stripes break out instruments, fire up the grill, and gather around a bonfire. Keep an eye out for familiar faces: Here, the woman who just offered you a beer could very well be climbing legend Lynn Hill.
Need to Know: Hueco Rock Ranch (www.huecorockranch.com) offers camping for $5 per person per night as well as services like a kitchen, showers, and guided bouldering tours. Private rooms are $30 per person and shared bunks are $20 per person. Discounts are available for extended stays.Lynn Hill at Hueco Tanks
14.Hike Yellowstone's Wild Southwest
It’s a mighty high claim to call one backpacking trip in our archetypal national park the best, but it’s hard to top this traverse of the southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park. Factor in a hot soak or two with a hike beside burbling hot springs, steaming fumaroles, streaming waterfalls, a grand finale at the park’s signature attraction and you’ve got plenty to back up the boast.
The 27-mile (43-kilometer) hike starts at the Bechler ranger station, a long haul in itself, reachable via Idaho Highway 47. It crosses expansive Bechler Meadows, where an early-season crossing would be one of America’s worst adventures—they’re underwater in June and under bug siege in July, so wait till August or September when they’re in their wide-open glory. Then comes a spectacular series of waterfalls in the cool, damp, forested embrace of Bechler Canyon—Ouzel, Colonnade, Iris—and even more cascades outside the canyon in Continental Divide country. But enough of all this cool mist—time to get into hot water.
Near the Three Rivers Junction is the redoubtable Mr. Bubble hot spring, conveniently cooled by the flow of the Ferris Fork River, so it’s an ideally tempered spot for a soak. Take the two-mile (3.2-kilometer) side hike to Shoshone Lake and camp by the park’s largest backcountry lake and find a remote geyser basin and some trailside hot springs. Then, time the exit hike to pass by one of Lone Star Geyser’s eruptions, which happen every three hours. Ironically, after three to five nights on the trail among some of the park’s most remote water features, you emerge right at Old Faithful, feeling like a prune-skinned version of Jeremiah Johnson.
Need to Know: Get more information about Yellowstone attractions atwww.nps.gov/yell.Teton & Yellowstone Hike
Uncle Tom's Trail Yellowstone National Park
14.Trek Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Preserve, Alaska
Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, the country’s largest national park, operates on an entirely different scale than the Lower 48. Let’s just review the numbers: Six times the size of Yellowstone, it’s home to the country’s largest collection of glaciers and peaks over 16,000 feet (4,879 meters), including nine of the 16 tallest mountains. Parts of the national park are so remote and unexplored that mountains, glaciers, and passes remain unnamed, and only two roads—both gravel—enter it at all. Few visitors ever set foot into the backcountry. All of this adds up to that rarest of finds: true solitude.
Because there are limited well-trod trails in the park, backpackers usually forge their own routes, which is why a guide can come in handy. Enter Greg Fensterman, the author of the FalconGuides to trekking in the park and owner of the outfitter Trek Alaska. After exploring the park for the better part of a decade, Fensterman now offers choice guided treks, ranging from several days of bush-plane-accessed base camping and pleasant day hikes to nine days of serious climbs, swift river crossings, and bushwhacking. Either way, the rewards are indescribable: You’ll witness paper-white peaks that rise 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) out of valley floors, spot grizzlies that have likely never seen humans, and witness a place so remote and wild it could very well be the end of the world.
Need to Know: Contact the National Park Service (www.nps.gov/wrst) for information on backpacking. Trek Alaska offers five-day trips from $900 (www.trekalaska.com).Wrangell-St. Elias Park, Alaska - Pyramid Peak trek
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Scenic Flight
15.Climb the Diamond on the Longs Peak
In general, Colorado’s famed fourteeners—the state’s 54 peaks over 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) tall—are pretty easy to climb. This makes the east face of 14,259-foot (4,346-meter) Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, which serves up the biggest buffet of multipitch, big-wall routes this side of Yosemite, even more of a prize. The east face’s sheer, 2,000-foot-high (609-meter-high) Diamond is a true, big mountain adventure that requires confidence in climbing 5.10 rock and the guts to sleep out in a portaledge.
If you do not seek that gritty of a challenge, there are easier options on the east face, such as the 5.4 Kieners route, a classic alpine climb that wends around the south side of the Diamond and takes advantage of a snow-filled couloir. But it is the hard rock routes on the Diamond that bring alpinists here from across the globe. The most popular way up, the Casual Route (5.10a), is still quite committing. Plus, the 5.10 crux of the Casual Route is near the top so you need to keep your energy in reserve.
For even greater challenges, King of Swords (5.12a) is a tough, overhanging route, and Eroica (5.12b), which runs next to the Casual Route, provides continuous 5.11 climbing with two cruxes at 5.12. Technical talk aside, the Diamond may be the very best place in the Lower 48 to test your big-wall mettle with a guide before you move on to even bigger mountains. Of course there’s certainly no shame in the Diamond being the apex of your rock-climbing achievements.
Need to Know: Colorado Mountain School (www.totalclimbing.com) will guide you up the Diamond on one- or two-day trips, from $475.The Diamond Part 1
The Diamond Part 2
16.Hike Weminuche Wilderness
The Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado would be almost impossible to access without the fortuitous presence of a famous (and spectacular) sightseeing train, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Savvy peak baggers see it as a sweet symbiosis—they hop aboard with the tourists, take the train as far as Needleton, then hop off to cross the Animas River footbridge for a seven-mile (11-kilometer) hike into Chicago Basin. The prize is access to a feast of peaks called the Needle Mountains. Notable Needles include three fourteeners: Mount Eolus (14,083 feet/4,292 meters), Sunlight Peak (14,059 feet/4,285 meters), and Windom Peak (14,082 feet/4,292 meters).
A classic route is to ascend the west ridge of Sunlight—nontechnical, but a Class IV blast to climb on clean, highly aesthetic rock. Then descend via the south slope and head up the west ridge of Windom for about as much fun as a mountaineer can have in a single day. Unless it’s to tick off Eolus the same day to score the highest of bragging rights. Then you can knock off thirteeners in your spare time. No matter what, a very early start is de rigueur to beat the afternoon thunderstorms. Going with a guide can save you some route-finding frustration and get you swiftly to the sweetest rock.
Chicago Basin is no secret among climbers—nor among increasingly brazen goats, who will eat pretty much anything. Hang your stuff while you’re out peak bagging, even your hard goods. And consider a fall trip, when the climbers are fewer and the aspen are shimmery gold.
Need to Know: General info is available at www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan. Southwest Adventure Guides (www.mtnguide.net) offers three-day backpacking trips to Chicago Basin starting at $750.Hike Weminuche Wilderness
17.Canoe the Allagash, Maine
Maine’s North Woods are so far removed from the rest of the bustling Northeast, they’ve changed little since the 19th century. That’s why canoeing the Allagash River, a state-protected wilderness waterway, is a little like time travel. Over 92 river miles (148 kilometers), canoeists notice few signs of civilization, save for a few dusty bridges, a historic lumber camp, and the occasional distant rumble of a logging truck.
Though paddlers frequent the river between May and October, spring is arguably the best time to go: the crowds are few and the spring meltwater makes a longer trip possible. Enlist the help of Allagash Canoe Trips, a guide service established in 1953 and run by three consecutive generations of Cochranes. The consummate trip will take at least nine days, following the narrow, trout-packed Allagash Stream; serene, motorless Allagash Lake; and finally the storied river itself. Along the way, canoeists run Class I and II rapids, see a 45-foot (14-meter) cascading waterfall, and hike up nearby mountains to spot views of Mount Katahdin. But it’s arguably the moments when you’re least busy—gliding silently through the glassy water, observing a moose or an eagle standing sentinel over a nest—that you fall into a peaceful trance impossible anywhere else but this still-wild land.
Need to Know: Allagash Canoe Trips (www.allagashcanoetrips.com), a guide service, runs small, private trips. A nine-day, 100-mile (161-kilometer) trip along the Allagash Stream, Allagash Lake, and Allagash River costs about $1,225.Expedice Allagash 2010 (canoeing the Allagash)