The Best Outdoor Adventures in America Right Now

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Henry David Thoreau, the American naturalist and philosopher, called our desire for big nature “the tonic of wilderness.” We sure all need it now. Below are 21 great outdoor adventures—on the East coast, the West coast, the Midwest, and the South. We have organized them by degrees of physical difficulty involved: From almost none (Part 1, Adventures Lite), to some (Part 2, Active Adventures), to substantial (Part 3, Challenging Adventures), to, well, daredevil territory (Part 4, Extreme Adventures). Booking information is provided. And just this bit of advice: Know thyself.

PART 1: ADVENTURES LITE (for when you don’t really want to break a sweat)

Snowmobile to hot springs in Idaho

The country around Shore Lodge, the historic lakefront resort two and a half hours from Boise, is rugged: the Salmon River Mountains, glacial lakes, and 2,600 skiable acres. But the area’s real bragging rights are its 500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, on which the resort organizes private daylong, 30-mile backcountry adventures. Go at a leisurely pace to spot elk and moose—or chase your guide, kicking up snow at 50 mph. The endpoint: rustic Burgdorf Hot Springs, which has three mineral-rich pools that have been lowering blood pressure since 1870. TO BOOK: Shore Lodge

Road trip to a blue bayou in Louisiana

Few places in the U.S. feel as “abroad” as Acadiana, where french toast is called pain perdu, alligators and egrets lurk and flit, and Cajun music is on surround sound. The road trip specialist All Roads North will curate a six-day itinerary that includes: a stay on the shores of Lake Martin at the Maison Madeleine, a gorgeously atmospheric two-bedroom Cajun home from the 1840s that’s now a B&B where James Beard–nominated chefs come to cook; kayak tours of the mazelike waterways of the vast Atchafalaya Basin; seaplane excursions; and visits to Breaux Bridge, New Iberia, and Jefferson Island, the heartland of the Cajun way of life. End, if you wish, in New Orleans, with a stay at the new Chloe, a 14-room Queen Anne–style mansion turned hotel. TO BOOK: Sam Highley, [email protected]

Spy golden eagles in flight in Montana

The much delayed Green O, the adults-only sister retreat of the Resort at Paws Up, the pioneering glamping getaway, opens in June on the secluded southern edge of the 37,000-acre Paws Up property. The 12 stand-alone glass-and-wood cabins are architecturally stunning (no Western clichés here), but the real draw is the endless opportunities for tranquil outdoor pursuits. Equestrians can join cattle drives or explore pine-shaded trails. Anglers have the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, and Missouri rivers to cast in. And hot air balloon flights double as wildlife safaris; from the air you might spot golden eagles soaring in the distance or a herd of elk in a meadow below. TO BOOK: Rob Karp, [email protected]; thegreeno.com

Explore from the chicest caravan park ever—in Oregon

Set on 103 acres along Oregon’s wildest stretch of coast, Bay Point Landing is a fashionable New Nordic twist on the traditional caravan park. Every sleek, modern prefab cabin (all with patios and private firepits), tricked-out Airstream, and RV site has dramatic views of Coos Bay. The mild climate makes for year-round adventures: Fall brings consistent surf to Bastendorff Beach, just up the road; in winter you can whale-watch, harvest clams, or cast for steelhead; in spring and summer, take a day trip to the dunes or explore the old-growth forest of Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area. Contemplating one of those Goss RVs that have been all the rage (some have interiors rivaling suites at the Four Seasons)? This is the place to park it. TO BOOK: ­Bay Point Landing

PART 2: ACTIVE ADVENTURES (when physical activities matter but stunning scenery is a must)

Wake up in a wonderland in the Southwest

The only way to spend the night in the magically colored and contoured national parks of the Southwestern U.S. used to be basic DIY camping. No longer. When the pioneering glamping company Under Canvas opens its newest camp in April—on the edge of Canyon Rim Plateau in Lake ­Powell–Grand Staircase, on 220 acres of red, orange, and yellow land—you’ll be able to book a circuit that also includes camps in the Grand Canyon, Moab, and Zion parks. The stylish tents sleep up to seven, have hot water and daily housekeeping, and include the services of a personal “adventure concierge,” who will arrange every imaginable activity, including rugged Jeep tours, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and more. TO BOOK: ­[email protected]

Bike like you’re in Burgundy—on the East Coast

DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co. has a loyal following among discerning cyclists. New trips in Vermont, Maine, and New York have been planned with the same attention to detail as the signature small group DuVine itineraries in Burgundy and Tuscany. The four-day Hudson Valley trip, for example, includes overnights at Troutbeck, an estate that hosted Hemingway and Thoreau; farm-to-table meals; artisanal whiskey tastings; and rides ranging from 20 to 48 miles a day. TO BOOK: Sybille Steiner, [email protected]

Paddleboard the fjords in Alaska

The Within the Wild company is a rare thing, two remote Alaska lodges owned by one of the state’s most revered backcountry guides, Carl Dixon, who also happens to be married to an award-winning chef. Winterlake lies at the entrance to the Alaska Range, and Tutka Bay comprises six cabins on a private cove outside Homer, open from May to September. Big nature activities abound at both. Winterlake has a new High Mountain Camp, a base for ridgeline and downhill glacier biking. Tutka Bay launched a new helicopter daytrip to the outer coast of the Gulf of Alaska for bear viewing by boat and standup paddleboarding on the fjords. No worries if you work up an appetite: Three-course meals back at the lodge might feature reindeer tenderloin with blueberry gastrique or black cod. TO BOOK: Kirsten Dixon, [email protected]

Gallery: Add These Charming American Towns To Your Must Visit List (Good Housekeeping)

Test drive a base camp for type A’s in Rhode Island

Just three hours by car from New York City, the five-month-old Preserve Sporting Club & Residences in Richmond has 500 acres of fields, wetlands, and rolling hills, with 100 miles of woodland trails for hiking, mountain biking, and ATVing. When they’re covered in snow, they can be explored by snowshoe, snowmobile, or Nordic ski. Fishing fanatics can cast for trout in 10 on-site ponds; there are also a zipline, four tennis courts, and an 18-hole golf course. The team behind Relais & Châteaux’s Ocean House manages the property (the service is five-star), and there’s not a whiff of stuffy country club dining: Private meals can be served in tents, Hobbit-esque cottages, or a treehouse. TO BOOK: Jack Ezon, [email protected]­embarkbeyond.com

Hike amid pueblo ruins in New Mexico

The outfitter Extraordinary Journeys built its reputation on safaris in Africa, pivoting to U.S. adventures during the pandemic. All trips are custom, but New Mexico–born co-owner Marcia Gordon especially recommends: 1) Hiking among the Puebloan archaeological ruins in Bandelier National Monument, either along the mellow 1.4-mile Main Loop, dotted with sites, or the 12-mile roundtrip to the Yapashi Pueblo, which has some arduous ascents from pine-shaded canyons; 2) Experiencing the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico’s answer to the Grand Canyon, either from a hot air balloon or by riding its class III rapids. Lodgings include luxe tents in dark sky–designated Chaco Canyon (as “roughing it” as Gordon’s trips get), Santa Fe’s landmark Bishop’s Lodge (reopening in April after a complete makeover), and Ted Turner’s 550,000-acre Vermejo ranch, where you can hike, mountain bike, and ride horses. TO BOOK: Elizabeth Gordon, [email protected]

PART 3: CHALLENGING ADVENTURES (when you want off the grid and out of your comfort zone)

Own the great unknown in Alaska

Ancient Greeks called the realm beyond the northern bounds of their maps Ultima Thule. Experiencing that terra incognita privately is the promise of Ultima Thule Lodge. Its five cabins are 100 miles from the closest road and have Wrangell–St. Elias National Park as a 13.2 million–acre back yard. Guests have daily access to a fleet of bush planes and pilots—i.e., a pass to a wilderness the size of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland combined. Not enough? After a few nights at the lodge, set off in a Cessna 185 to any national park in the state. Kayak on alpine lakes, hike volcanoes, or observe polar bears in the Arctic, staying along the way in private homes, villages, and old-fashioned tents—true adventure on an Alaskan scale. TO BOOK: Ellie Gray, [email protected]

Redefine road warrior in Tennessee

The cabins may be stocked with kombucha, and the spa offers crystal reiki, but don’t for a second think Blackberry Mountain is just another woo-woo wellness resort. The sister property of celebrated culinary destination Blackberry Farm, situated on 5,200 acres of Smoky Mountain beauty, has some seriously pulse-raising activities. The off-road driving circuit is designed to hone your reflexes. A guide will instruct you in navigating seven challenges—including the log crawl, hill descent, and axle twist—and put you in a Lexus. Trust us, you will need a cocktail—afterward. TO BOOK: Lee Robinson, [email protected]

Feel all “out of Africa” in Utah

Tour operator Black Tomato excels in trips that let you get your hands dirty by day and sleep in style at night. The ­seven-day Southwest “safari” (with bush planes) aims to rival African exploits. An overnight at Sorrel River Ranch in Moab, amid red rock mesas, will transport you to Namibia; the class IV rapids on the Colorado River are a match for the Zambezi’s. The popup “blink tents” along the shore are fully staffed and accoutred with vintage trunks and Sferra linens. The trip ends with two nights at Amangiri’s Camp Sakira, which, except for wildlife, rivals anything in Kenya or Botswana. TO BOOK: [email protected]

Gallop for your supper in Oregon

Just getting to Minam River Lodge is an adventure. Set in the 360,000-acre Eagle Cap Wilderness, it’s accessible only by a half-day horseback ride, an 8.5-mile hike, or a charter flight. Skilled equestrians can make a multiday trip of it with Del Sol Outfitters, who will match you to a horse, set up a camp with a chef-run kitchen, and suggest rides to nearby alpine lakes and meadows. At the lodge, wilderness luxuries await: cabins with waterfall showers, Willamette Valley wines, and multicourse meals made from ingredients from the on-site greenhouse and smokehouse. TO BOOK: Barry Cox at Del Sol Outfitters, [email protected]; Minam River Lodge

PART 4: EXTEME ADVENTURES (when you want your inner daredevil to run free)

Play hard with water in Maui

The island’s north shore is a water sports paradise, home to the windsurfing hotspot Ho’okipa and the legendary surf break Jaws. The recent opening of Haiku House, a nine-room estate on 20 acres that once belonged to sugar magnate Henry Alexander Baldwin, finally gives visitors a luxe base close to the waves—plus access to some of Hawaii’s top athletes. Downwind paddleboard with world champion Connor Baxter, windsurf with former pro Kevin Pritchard, free-dive with five-time national record holder Kurt Chambers, or try Hawaii’s latest craze, wing foiling (on a board with an attached fin with wings), under the tutelage of Zane Schweitzer. While you acquire new skills, you’ll also pick up a truly local perspective. TO BOOK: Marilyn Clark, [email protected]

Summit a monster in Colorado

Hiking 14,000-foot peaks—14ers, locals call them—is a rite of passage in Colorado, which has 58 of them. But taking even the easiest route to the top requires planning and preparation. Hotel Jerome in Aspen has launched a three-day program to help guests bag the peak of their choosing. Mike Schneiter, a certified mountain guide, assisted by his daughter Selah, one of the youngest people ever to climb El Capitan, will put you through boot camp, train you on a via ferrata, and then lead your ascent. If you choose a mellower route, you can bring a naturalist and a gourmet picnic lunch. Supertechnical climbs require complete focus, but they can later be celebrated at the JBar, back at the Jerome. TO BOOK: Hotel Jerome

Take on chutes and cliffs in Wyoming

Earn your turns—and experience the magnificent solitude of the backcountry—on an overnight skiing adventure in Grand Teton National Park. Yes, you’ll have to leave your cushy digs at the Caldera House, an eight-suite hotel in the heart of Jackson Hole Resort. But you’ll be rewarded with mind-boggling terrain. Caldera House will outfit you with gear, and an Exum Mountain Guide will lead you to Baldy Knoll Yurt, a fully stocked backcountry camp at an altitude of 8,800 feet, with access to glade skiing (between trees), open bowls, chutes, cliffs, and couloirs. Good luck. TO BOOK: calderahouse.com

Tackle rapids, peaks, and glaciers in Washington


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INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES

North Cascades National Park, nicknamed the American Alps for its jagged peaks and 300-plus glaciers, offers as many adrenaline-fueled challenges as those Alps in Europe. The outfitter Embark Beyond’s new customizable 14-day itineraries might include a guided three-day, 23-mile trek over Cascade Pass, camping old-school along the way; or a seaplane flight to fjordlike Ross Lake, the park’s crown jewel, for four days of kayaking, camping, and hiking up Desolation Peak (at some serious elevation). Stay at the adults-only riverfront Post Hotel & Spa in the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth, or in a well-appointed private cabin at Mountain Home Lodge, where you can tackle the 17-mile Enchantments trail as well as whitewater. Whatever you do, you’ll feel like a contestant on The Amazing Race. TO BOOK: Josh Geller, [email protected]

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