13 Best Adventure Vacations in the U.S.

1. CRUISING THROUGH GLACIER BAY 

Brown bears lumber along the shore of Glacier Bay while bald eagles soar overhead and sea otters swim alongside your boat. Calving glaciers and the snow-covered Fairweather Mountains complete the scene. 

2. MOUNTAIN BIKING IN MOAB 

Considered by many to be the ultimate mountain-biking experience, Slickrock Trail in Moab, Utah, is a 10-mile trek through delightful desert terrain. There are also plenty of easier rides through Moab.

3. HIKING THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL 

Running for 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is the Holy Grail for serious hikers. Challenge yourself with the Roller Coaster, a quad-busting trek through Virginia. 

4. FLY-FISHING ON THE MISSOURI RIVER 

Fly-fishing doesn’t get any better than in Montana, especially along the Missouri River. From June to August, the average trout—this is not a typo—is 16 inches long.

5. BACKPACKING IN MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK 

Washington’s Mt. Rainier is a magnet for backpackers, with dozens of off-the-beat-pathpath routes like the challenging 17-mile Mother Mountain Loop. Wildlife like chipmunks and black bears share the evergreen trails. 

6. KAYAKING SOUTH CAROLINA’S BARRIER ISLANDS 

Bottlenose dolphins follow in your wake as you kayak along the coast. You’ll encounter loggerhead turtles, white-tailed deer, and even alligators (from a safe distance). 

7. SNORKELING IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS 

The kelp forests just off the coast of California’s Santa Cruz Island, one of the famous Channel Islands, make for some of the country’s most seductive underwater scenery. 

8. ROCK CLIMBING IN NEW RIVER GORGE 

One of the nation’s newest national parks, West Virginia’s New River Gorge is al- ready one of the most popular climbing areas in the country. The park has sheer sandstone cliffs that challenge even pros. 

9. RAFTING THE COLORADO RIVER 

Riding the rapids through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River is one of the biggest thrills imaginable. It’s not all white water, though: there are long, relaxing stretches of water, where you drift amid grandiose rock formations on a multiday adventure. 

10. SNOWSHOEING IN MICHIGAN 

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is prime snowshoeing territory, especially in the towering old-growth forests of the remote Porcupine Mountains (aka “Porkies”). 

There’s a 100-mile hut-to-hut trail where you can warm yourself up next to a woodburning stove. Or, try the activity at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, also known for its ice climbing. 

11. SURFING ON THE NORTH SHORE OF OAHU 

From November to February, only experienced surfers should take on the towering waves along Oahu, Hawaii’s famous North Shore. This area is often called the “seven-mile miracle” for its long stretch of breaks. 

12. SWIMMING WITH MANATEES 

Florida’s gentle giants are surprisingly easy to spot from December to March, when they congregate in the warmer waters of freshwater springs. You can legally swim with them in Crystal River, and kayak with them in South Florida, but remember to respect all rules and maintain your distance. 

13. SKYDIVING IN SNOHOMISH 

Take on the ultimate bucket list activity in Snohomish, Washington, considered one of the top skydiving destinations in the world. As you soar through the fresh mountain air you can spot mini evergreens and snowcapped peaks. 

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