For some, the thought of lying around on a beach sipping a fruity cocktail is unimaginable as an ideal vacation. While of course, everyone has their own definition of “relax and unwind,” there’s a certain population that experiences this through the thrill of active pursuits.
And as road tripping and socially distant travel has become increasingly popular in the age of COVID-19, so has the opportunity to explore within our own backyards. What better way to explore than with a little adventure? These vacations provide a variety of choices for the modern explorer to become one with nature.
So if you’re a big outdoor adventurer, or if you’d like to be, there are certain travel destinations you’ll really want to consider. From hiking to biking to diving, these adventure-centric trips should be on every outdoor enthusiast’s bucket list.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
The Coachella Valley, encompassing all nine desert regions, is like no other place on earth. Health-seekers, adventurers, artists, and more have flocked here since the early 1900s in search of adventure, solitude, and serenity. And situated in the valley just two hours from Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park offers a ton of activities in a best-in-class landscape for those looking for adventure. So if scrambling rocks in remote canyons, long hikes and rock climbing sound like an ideal getaway for a solo adventure, or even with friends, Joshua Tree National Park needs to be added to your list.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee-North Carolina
Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides the ultimate immersion into the great outdoors. With over 800 miles of hiking spread out over 150 different trails, there are a countless number of outdoor adventures you can experience when you travel here. From hiking trails to amusement parks to daring adventures, there is something for every thrill found in these hills.
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Adventures in a tropical, balmy destination await in Baja California Sur. From January to March you can take a boat tour on one of the lagoons to mingle with the gray whales, swim with whale sharks, or even snorkel with sea lions and dolphins who inhabit nearby Isla Espíritu Santo. And if you prefer land adventures than sea, there are a number of excursions in the surrounding mountains and desert terrain that will put your adrenaline to the test, such as canyoning in Baja California Sur.
Zion National Park, Utah
The name “Zion” means “a place of peace and refuge,” and as a sanctuary with over 146,000 acres of cliffs, canyons, diverse plant and animal life, and uninterrupted beauty, Zion is well-named. Famous for its deep canyons, sandstone cliffs and stunning vistas, experience firsthand the beauty of lush forestland with the towering majesty of colorful mountain peaks. Guided hike options include Observation Point and Emerald Pools.
If the capital city of Idaho wasn’t on your list as an ideal outdoor destination, you’re not alone. Surprising to many, Boise, also known as the "City of Trees," has it all. For those looking to explore the golden hills of the backcountry, and become one with nature (or the trees), this is it. The Boise River Greenbelt, which is a 25-mile, tree-lined path that follows the river that cuts through the city, is one of Boise's most beloved parks and offers plenty of space for leisurely strolls, biking and even paddling down the river.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is on everyone’s travel destination bucket list. So if you’re looking to add some adventure to your travel list, why not visit one of the seven natural wonders? Continuing to connect people with the great outdoors and life, this is only a three-hour drive from Phoenix or a four-hour drive from Las Vegas. You can traverse the canyon by foot, like the 19-mile round trip hike along the Bright Angel Trail, or you can raft through the canyon along the Colorado River — about as grand as you can get. Visitors can even take in the views above the canyon by either skydiving or going on a helicopter tour.
The entire state of Colorado is an outdoor adventure playground (have you ever been to Denver or Aspen?), but Telluride is one of those standout towns where the outdoors is deeply rooted in their lifestyle. Along with some of the best terrain for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, Telluride is also a perfect year-round, off-the-beaten-path destination, offering tons of rock climbing experiences and biking trails — all of which have spectacular views. Want to venture outside of the typical ski towns and do something different? Telluride is the way to go.