Yes, the summit of Fourteeners and the Grand Canyon Rafting are unforgettable experiences that you absolutely must have. But at a time when we are thinking about how to make the most of our time outside, why limit ourselves to what is expected? We’ve found 23 surprising ways to inspire you for 2021 and beyond.
1. Ski and Surf on the Same Day
Hawaii-based Alpine skier Julia Mancuso, who surfed the Black Sea after the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, has a tip for those who want to try this legendary Duo on the same day “ ” first ski, then surf.”They will be more motivated to take off the ski boots than to put them on,” she says. Here are three proven combinations of beach and mountain. Our pro advice? Pack a thick jumpsuit. – Taylor Gee
Alaska: from the Alyeska Resort, the largest ski hill in the state, it is 10 km west of a peninsula called Bird Point. From there, you’ll paddle south to Turnagain Arm bore Tide, a wave up to ten feet long that typically occurs twice a day when the deluge of the sea hits the water coming out of the inlet.
Southern California: do some shopping at the Big Bear Mountain Resort before traveling 120 miles southwest to reach the breaking point of the Lower Bucks in San Onofre State Park. Take an O. G. Taco from Sancho s along the way.
Maine: The Break at Higgins Beach is only 50 miles from Shawnee Peak, where you can ski at night after morning on the water.
2. Catch a Fallen Star
Meenakshi Wadhwa, planetary scientist and director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University, says Antarctica is your favorite place to hunt for meteorite fragments. With a little patience, you can find them closer to home. – T. G.
Where to go: “go to a place that is not very overgrown and sees little rainfall,” Wadhwa says. Examples: a dry desert, a dry lake bed or an open field where fragments were found in the past.
What to bring: meteorites have high concentrations of Nickel and iron. Use a metal detector to refine your search.
What to look for: once you have a specimen, examine it against the identification Quiz here. Important indicators are a Regmaglypt (a small depression caused by travel through the atmosphere) and an ash-like coating called a melting crust. When it checks, send it to a commercial lab, like Actlabs, to confirm that your find is a space visitor.
3. Go on an American Safari
Until other international wildlife meccas reopen, why not Safari in the United States? This is not the second best. I recently went to Vermejo, a beautiful 558,000-acre reservation in Northeastern New Mexico that is owned by Ted Turner. It is filled with pristine lakes, rivers and views of the Southern Rocky Mountains. You can ride horses, take a stream to fish for trout, and hike to peaks over 10,000 feet. And The Ranch’s experienced Guides will take you on an excursion to see bison, moose, mule deer, bears, coyotes and, if you’re lucky, sheep and mountain lions. Vermejo also offers a follow-up program for children to find out which animal left this huge footprint in the mud. Starting at deux 1,400 for two people, meals and two daily activities included-Mary Turner
4. Watch a Desert Bloom in Spring
There’s always life where you least expect it.
5. Hike a Trail Reached by Gondola
Mammoth, California: The Five-Mile Mammoth Mountain Trail, accessed by the panoramic pod, offers views of the San Joaquin River Valley in the Sierra Nevada.
Lutsen, Minnesota: the Summit Express brings visitors to Moose Mountain, at 1,690 feet. From here, take a 4.2 km section of the upper trail to the base and take in views of Lake Superior.
West Virginia: the short Airways at Pipestem and Hawks Nest State Parks lead visitors down a ravine. Walk the 4.5-mile River Trail or the 2-mile Hawks Nest Rail Trail. – T. G.
6. Rappel Down a Waterfall
Sometimes it is not enough to enjoy a waterfall from afar. If you are an experienced climber and are familiar with ropes, coverings and anchors, consider cases where you can legally climb and rappel down. You want the water flow to be low enough for your feet to still touch the rock face. If you’re a beginner, book a guided trip with an OEMs like Northeast Mountaineering in New Hampshire (starting at New 100) or Da Life Outdoors in Kauai (starting at$ 185). – T. G.
7. Eat at a Restaurant You Can’t Drive To
The famous River Hot Dog Man, New Jersey: swimming in the Delaware River is a hungry job. That’s why tubers, kayakers, and canoeists stop on this barge north of Trenton, which serves hot dogs and burgers to passers-by.
The Deck @ Piste, Wyoming: in summer and fall, the cable car at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is free after 5 p.m. and guests depart by ferry to this open-air Restaurant 2,700 meters above the Valley. In winter, it closes for skiing at four hours before reopening for dinner at 5: 30. For the trip down, order the Cocktail 5 to-Go Cocktail, the bartender’s choice.
Minam River Lodge, Oregon: located in Eagle Cap Wilderness, in the northeastern part of the state, this historic hunting lodge turned hotel can only be reached by an 8.5 mile hike or horseback. Sign up for a Ranch-style meal, spend the night in one of the on-site canvas tents (starting at 1 195) or set up a tent in the surrounding wilderness.
Tennessee Pass Cookhouse, Colorado: do you want to treat yourself to a classy meal and deserve it? Skiing, snowshoeing or hiking a mile from the Nordic Center near Leadville to this Restaurant at 10,800 feet. Order the Bison Burger for lunch or the stuffed pheasant for dinner. – T. G.
8. Chase a Storm
Step one: study up. To recognize and experience a tornado, to tell the story, you need to understand how you behave. Take online courses with SKYWARN, a national Weather utility, and get Tim Vasquez’s Storm Chasing manual.
Step two: equip yourself. What you need: a car, a co-pilot, and lots of electronics. Everyone’s setup is different, but a laptop and Hotspot, maps or dedicated GPS and a roadside emergency kit are a good place to start.
Third stage: saddle. Check the forecast and head to Tornado Alley in Central America, which stretches from South Dakota to Texas, preferably in May or June. Stormchasing involves long hours of driving with no guarantee that you will see a Twister. Have a backup route for 7 days.
Step four: but really, just hire a guide. Play safe and book reputable service like extreme hunting tours in Oklahoma. – T. G.
9. Take Your Parents on Their Dream Vacation
Isn’t it about time you paid them back?
10. Forage for an Ocean Feast
Take a grunt run in Southern California: in spring and summer, the returning waves show hundreds of tasty little grunt fish swimming at night on the shore as they lay their eggs in the sand. Buy a fishing licence and check the spawning plan online at the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Then go to the beach, collect them on the dozens and fry in a frying pan.
Go digging clams in Washington: grab a shovel, download a permit from the Department of Fish and wildlife site, and make your way to Long Beach Peninsula, in the southern part of the state, arriving just before low tide. In autumn and winter you will find locals looking for shells to shave, a delicious shell that is as fun as eating.
Dive for lobster in the Florida Keys: Florida’s famous spiny lobster mini-season lasts only two days, the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July. With a saltwater fishing license, a lobster license, your diving gear, a measuring device, a pair of gloves, and what’s called a tickle stick (a rod used to get crustaceans out of their holes), you can bag up to six a day. – T. G
12. Watch the Ocean Glow in the Dark
Kayak on a moonless night across Puerto Rico’s Mosquito Bay on any day of the year to see one of the brightest bioluminescence displays in the world. —T.G.
13. Help a Thru-Hiker
Step 1: Find out where a long-distance road like Appalachia, Pacific Crest or Continental Divide crosses a secluded road. Use an online walking map to determine mileage. You can find the average departure dates and mileage per day on sites like the Trek and Halfway Anywhere. Use them to calculate when hikers pass or ask the trail’s Facebook group.
Step 2: buy food. Everything that a migrant probably does not carry himself, from fruits and sodas to cheeseburgers, will be a godsend. No need to get imagination.
Step 3: Create a shop. Find a good place for a few camping chairs and a cooler, and wait. You are now a trail Angel, and you will make the day of all the hikers who pass through. – T. G
14. Go on a Bikepacking Surf Trip
Hit those bike breaks and you don’t have to fight for a parking spot. If you spend the night at nearby campsites, you’ll be one step ahead before the crowds descend. Simply attach a surfboard frame to your bike, get a pack of seats for your other gear, and pedal.
North Carolina: with over 200 miles of coastline and a 200-day swell window, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a great trip for biking. Camping on the beach is not allowed, but four campsites point the coast, including Oregon Inlet and Frisco. The best breaks are the S-turns and old lighthouse walkways, but stop where the waves are good.
Southern California: start Camping at El Capitán State Beach, 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, where there is a hollow point. The next day, drive 32 miles south along Highway 101 to Carpinteria State Beach, the closest place to set up a tent near the infamous Rincon Point. Then continue south to Malibu, spend the night at Leo Carrillo State Beach, and paddle early in the morning.
Florida: start your trip on Palm Beach Reef Road, near one of the best surf spots in the state. Set up your tent in nearby Peanut Island Park. From here, The Sandbar Breaks at Boynton Beach Inlet is just 20 miles south. Then cycle eight hours north on the A1A and 1 highways to Sebastian Inlet State Park. You can spend the night and catch waves north of First Peak, Kelly Slater’s original site. – Erin Riley
15. Take an Urban Hike That Feels Far Away
The Inman 300, Los Angeles County: the first urban route was established by Bob Inman in 2012. It now covers 225 miles and 360 steep stairs. Find the guide here and start cutting portions.
Randall’s Island Park, New York: from Manhattan, cross the Harlem River via Wards Island Footbridge on 103rd Street and FDR Drive to Randall’s, a 480-acre park, where you’ll find nine miles of car-free waterfront trails.
Seattle Stairway foot Tour: this route includes 65 miles, 11,000 feet of elevation gain and 15,000 stairs. Find the map here. – Mr. T.
16. Cross a Mountain Range on a Bike
There’s something so satisfying about a point-to-point mountain bike ride, especially if you’re riding a long distance. We recommend the 36-mile ride from Rollinsville, Colorado (about 22 miles west of Boulder), via Continental Divide and to the ski town of Winter Park. You climb pleasantly stably to 3,200 feet of an old railway line, reach a peak of 11,700 feet and enjoy classic alpine views. Drive through a dramatic series of Bucks near the top, then down a dirt road (with the option to jump on Singletrack) to Winter Park on the other side. You can come back the next day, but here’s a better idea: ask a friend to meet you on the second day for lift-assisted descents at trestle Bike Park. Now you have a ride home. – Gloria Liu
17. Head Overseas for a Year
If you are itching to move away from the mainland, consider doing so as an expat. As more companies have agreed to work remotely during the pandemic, it may be time to spend this year abroad. You have a wide choice: Georgia, Barbados, Estonia and Bermuda are among the adventure destinations that have implemented advanced visa incentives to attract digital nomads. It is enough to check the application requirements, which often provide for a minimum wage. – E. R.
18. Visit the Chillest Place on Earth
19. Overnight Somewhere Unusual
Beckham Creek Cave Lodge, Arkansas: a winding road through the Ozarks brings you to this four-bedroom vacation rental built in a natural cave. Don’t be fooled by its mysterious exterior—this cave apartment feels like a luxury resort. There is an indoor waterfall, gourmet cuisine and the possibility of a guided tour of the connected cave filled with wild animals that stretches over a kilometer into the land. Hiking, kayaking and fishing can be enjoyed in the surroundings. From $1,200
Thorny Mountain Fire Tower, West Virginia: the only fire tower to book east of the Mississippi, this four-person cabin, available May through October, has become so popular that you need to book your spot months in advance. Once you reach the 65-foot tower, you’ll have stunning views of the surrounding ridges. It’s located in the Seneca state forest, so you can camp a few nights, kayak on The Greenbrier River, or hike up to 23 miles of trails. From $85
East Brother Lighthouse, California: for a secluded getaway to a big city, plan a few nights at this five-bedroom Bed-and-Breakfast. The inn has been an active lighthouse since 1873 and is located on an island in San Francisco Bay, a 10-minute ferry ride from Richmond. It’s one of more than a dozen transformed flagship hotels in the country, and reservations help fund the island’s upkeep and restoration. From $345
Forest Gully Farms, Tennessee: in the hills of this 15-hectare farm, there are three Hobbit huts that look more like the outside of New Zealand than the southern United States. The eight-person rental includes two dorms, a kitchen hut and a public bath. Guests can pick vegetables and collect eggs at the property’s farm and hike to a nearby waterfall. From $ 295 – E. R.
20. Explore an Alien Landscape
Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico: in this 45,000-hectare wilderness area in the northwest corner of the state, you won’t find any water, facilities or trails. Just an expanse of strangely beautiful rock formations and Badlands, the legacy of a prehistoric swamp.
Mono Lake, California: This multi-million-year-old Salt Lake, 240 miles east of San Francisco, is twice as salty as the ocean. Tuff spikes of calcium carbonate spring out of the calm water, which gives a strange representation of the lake’s peculiar chemistry.
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada: visit this Martian landscape 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas for its swirling and incredibly red Aztec sandstone, the rest of a Jurassic Inland Sea. – T. G.
21. Think “Oh S––t, That’s a Long Fall” on a Hike
Kalalau Trail, Kauai: this 22-mile hike along the island’s Na Pali Coast combines narrow rock outcrops, frequent rainstorms, and a raging ocean waiting downstairs in case you miss the stop. But in the end, do it at the beach and you will never want to go there.
Longs Peak, Colorado: The Keyhole Road at 14,259 feet Longs Peak is ” not a hike!”warns The Rocky Mountains national Park site. Vertical rock walls mean that a fall without a fall would likely be fatal. Combined with unpredictable weather conditions, more than 50% of those who make this 15-mile tour never reach the top.
Beehive Trail, Maine: this classic 1.4-mile route through Acadia national Park should not be overlooked. Hikers climb iron rungs and ladders along steep cliffs to reach the summit overlooking the Gulf of Maine. – T. G.
22. Set Up a Hammock on an Empty Beach
Even if it means a 5 A.M. wake-up call.
23. Get to a National Park by Amtrak
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: take the Southwest Chief route from Chicago to Los Angeles and stop at Flagstaff station. From here you can take a shuttle 80 miles north of Grand Canyon Village.
Shenandoah National Park, Va: take the Crescent Line—which connects 12 states from New York to New Orleans-and get off at Charlottesville station, just 24 miles east of the entrance to Rockfish Gap Park.
Glacier National Park, Montana: Take The Empire Builder, which runs from Chicago to Portland, to East Glacier Station to access the park’s two-mile entrance, eight miles to the North. – E. R.